Waties Island Nest Count

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More News from the Island

On Wednesday, we did two inventories, Nest 8 and Nest 11.  The outcome from Nest 8 was disappointing; 109 unhatched eggs and only 27 hatched.  We also found 5 dead hatchlings in the nest and they had been in there a while.  There were also lots and lots of roots in this nest.

Roots growing right through the egg

We've gotten some initial DNA results on the mother who laid this nest on June 18; she laid her first nest on North Myrtle Beach (their Nest 3) at 11th Avenue S.  She laid 139 eggs on NMB and 137 on Waties.

Then on to Nest #11:  Slightly better outcome here - 36 hatched egg shells, 22 unhatched and only 2 dead hatchlings.
Reburying the nest contents

Karen sorting the egg shells

We also have DNA results on this nest too.

This mother laid her first nest on NMB on 5/13, their first nest of the season with 109 eggs.
Then she laid her second nest on Waties on 5/29, our Nest #1, with 100 eggs.
Her third nest was again on Waties on 6/11, our Nest #4, with 96 eggs.
This nest represents her fourth of the season, our Nest #11, with 58 eggs.

She may have laid more nests during the season and future DNA results will give us the answers.

Barb and Steve

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Preparing for Hurricane Irene

It was a bit of work this morning and a very big thanks to Steve Huggins, Valerie and Dave Way and Karen Fuss who came out to help clear the island of signs and nesting materials.  All the cages and signs have been stored in the shed.

Steve placing a new marker in front of the nest site

In the place of the original signs, you will now see a small wooden post, sprayed with fluorescent yellow paint and marked with the nest number.  Well behind the dunes are two additional markers which should help us relocate the nest if the wooden stake is washed away in the high tides and storm surge.  They won't be quite as easy to see from a distance like the orange nest signs, but safer and will create less marine debris.

The new nest markers

And on the middle of the beach this morning was a skull - looks like an adult fox skull.  Quite a set of teeth on this critter!  Sometimes I miss those foxes; they may have helped to keep the ghost crabs from taking over the beaches.

It is looking more likely that we will only get the edges of Hurricane Irene now, but she's a big storm and we'll probably see some effects on our beaches.  Hope any damage is minimal.

Barb and Steve

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nest #10 Inventory Results

This morning Chris, Nancy and I headed out to the beach to dig up Nest 10.  We sort of wondered what we'd find after those big thunderstorms last night, but it was a beautiful morning on the beach.

Nancy and Chris starting to dig

One happy little turtle - bet she was glad we found her

Turtle gets some help
 getting to the water

This was a very lively turtle

That turtle needed our help getting out this morning

71 hatched, 19 unhatched

The nest had 101 eggs counting the one we took initially for the DNA study.

Nest #12 looks like it will be the next one to go:  see the ghost crab hole in the center...

Nest 12 could be next

and see the hatchling in the dunes?

This turtle was only a short distance from Nest 12
A big crab!

and see the culprit?

Chances are very good that this nest will emerge in the next day or so.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Update - New Emergence

The mosquitos and no-seeums were wicked this morning - not much breeze to keep them at bay.  Thanks to Dianne for remembering to bring some bug spray.  Saved the day.

Nest #11 emerged overnight with lots of tracks inside and outside the cage.  This is day 59 for this nest which is about average.  We'll be doing the inventory on Wednesday morning.

Nest 11 emerged overnight
Lots of tracks
Turtle tracks and ghost crabs too

Update on Nest #12 (which is only 50 days today) - we found two empty eggshells on the surface and a large ghost crab hole.  The crab hole is now filled in, but keep checking this one closely; this may be our next nest to hatch.
Busy ghost crabs...

Nest 12 egg shell on the surface
Nest 7, 8 and 9 - who knows?  No activity at Nest 7 at the jetty, Nest 8 has a small piece of egg shell on the surface, but no turtle tracks anywhere.  Nest 9, no reports of tracks either.

These birds are keeping an eye on Dr. Harding's research experiments
Barb and Steve

Friday, August 19, 2011

Inventory Results and New Emergence Today

Emerged at 61 days
The inventory of Nest #6 was conducted this morning with Arlene, Linda, Valerie, Dave, Nancy and Karen Fuss helping out.  This nest had a total of 98 eggs - 91 hatched, 5 were unhatched, 1 was used for the DNA study and a ghost crab (those pesky crabs!) got one at the end of July.

Nancy, Arlene and Linda sorting the contents of the nest

Recording the results

Burying the shells back in the nest cavity

But check this out!  Nest #10 emerged last night - 

Nest 10 emerged last night

We're be doing the inventory on Monday morning and everyone is welcome to participate.  Meet at the shed at 7 a.m. - see you there!

Barb and Steve

p.s. - Check out Valerie's morning fog photo - Beautiful!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16

                                                                    Another day in Paradise
                                                       Here comes the sun, little darlin'.

                                                     Mixed feelings about ghost crabs.....
                                                                      Love the colors.

                                                        See our friend the shark?
                                                            One shark--dorsal fin and tail
                                                            Again-love the colors.
                                                                                        Posted by Bill and Flossie Chapman

Inventory Results from Nest 5

This morning, Dave, Valerie, Seth and Amanda joined Steve and me to conduct an inventory on Nest 5 (incorrectly listed as Nest 6 initially).  The nest had been overwashed at least six times during high tides in June and July and never really exhibited the mass emergence that most nests do.  The ghost crabs were also particularly troublesome at this nest.

Sunday morning several hatchling tracks were noted, so after waiting the required three days, we dug up the nest.

Seth and Amanda starting to dig

Barb recording the outcome

32 hatched eggs; 36 unhatched

The nest had 32 hatched eggs and 36 unhatched.  No hatchlings, live or dead, were found in the nest.  One egg was taken initially for the DNA research project and a second egg was taken by a ghost crab in early July.  This gives us a total of 70 total eggs, somewhat smaller than an average clutch of 100 to 120.  

Thank you, Valerie, for taking these pictures.  More inventories coming up soon!