Waties Island Nest Count

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Waties 7.31.18

        We have some real nature lovers on Tuesdays.  Ten people in our group and Zachary, Kim and Dave's son, went out this morning.  We managed to get to the top of the island and half way back before it started to rain.  

At Nest 13 (to the right and below), we found more
shell pieces.  No hatchling tracks visible.

Nest 4 continues to be invaded by Ghost Crabs.  
3 dead Ghost Crabs in one trap and one in the other.  Nest site smelled due to the dead crabs.
Searching the area we found lots of shell pieces. Some as much as 25' away from the nest site.  We found three large shell pieces and will log them as three lost eggs.
These pictures don't show it, but we were soaked by the time we were on our way back to the shed.
But this group...note the smiles, they don't mind the rain at all.  You can tell they just like being out on the island. Dave, Connie and Susan rode in the cab.  Again, the poncho kept the backpack dry, but the sweat made it damp.
Nest #2 is 57 days old today, but there were no signs, not even a depression, that this nest is ready. 
Nest #3 is 51 days old today.  Hopefully, we'll see signs that something is happening with these nests soon.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Waties, Monday July 30th

Sherry, Donna, Mattie and I  started this morning hoping to get a full walk in.  It looked promising.  Got to nest #13.  Two more holes.  Not sure if one of them was made by an emergence or not.  Both were behind the reed noting the nest site.                               

There were no signs of any hatchling tracks or hatchlings.  But again, we have been having very heavy rains since yesterday and we could have missed them.  We did find two egg shells in the area around the nest. One of them buried in the sand at the entrance to one of the holes.  And YUP, that thing near the crab hole is what you think it is.                                                      

Caught and released a crab at nest 6 and 10.  Both of these nest looked good.  The thunder started in the distance.  We continued to mm 8.  Thunder and clouds started to build.  Never made it to nest 4.  It was a long way back to the truck and we couldn't take any chances.  What a downpour!  Mattie and Sherry got soaked in the back of the truck on the way back to the shed. The poncho Barb and Steve bought kept the backpack from getting wet today!   All the other nests, except for nest four, which we did not get to, are quiet.  Nest 2, which is 56 days showed no signs of anything happening. We'll try again tomorrow!   

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sunday, July 29th Waties News

Another frustrating day trying to get our morning walk in between thunderstorms.  We did go out later than normal, and got most of the island covered, at least where are current nests are located.  Nest 13 did havean eggshell outside the large ghost crab hole.  While getting ready to cover the hole up again, and looking for other eggshells, uncovered some hatchlings laying under the sand.  There were three, 2 had expired, but one did move.  Two of the hatchlings were tangled up in some type of nylon string/wire. Bob and I finally got the nylon wire cut, using the shovel.  When the hatchling that was moving was freed, it took off for the ocean.  He made it safely.

Nest #4 continues to be harassed by ghost crabs, we lost 4 more eggs today. One ghost crab was caught in the traps located at this nest.  Leslie walked up to this nest to check on it.  Did not walk to the end, storm was rolling in.

Bob and Diane who checked the other nests caught 2 more ghost crabs at Nest #6.  They reported that Nest#10 had a ghost crab hole right at the reed.  No shells were reported.  They covered the hole.

Karen and Sharon checked the nests on the short end, all was good.

Many thanks to Sharon, Karen, Bob and Diane for hanging in there and getting this accomplished between thunder storms.

Three hatchlings found at the ghost crab hole

Nylon string/wire was tangled around two of the hatchlings

Serving hatchling with some type of nylon string/wire around his head and one of his flippers, two of the hatchlings were toggled together, one made it to the ocean

Egg shells at Nest #4 - they were scattered all over the nest area

Nest 4

Egg shells are scattered all around the nest site

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Nest #14, Thursday, 7/26/18

Another nest found by the Thursday morning Walkers.  Text Book crawl and body pit.  Her crawl was 29 inches.  Nest was layed on the short end of the island, again another one close to the dunes.

Along with the nest, Bill C took some wonderful pictures of Waties.

Start of a beautiful day

Another beautiful sunrise

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Due to a third day of early morning thunder storms, Leslie and I went out to check the nests mid-morning of the third day. It had been two days since we were able to check them.       

The PN #1, now nest #13. is 54 days old. It had a large crab hole in front of the sign.  We found two egg shells on the surface.  One crab in the trap.  We filled in the hole and buried the egg shells. Released the crab away from the nest. 

But it was nest 4 that really surprised us.  The sign was down and there were numerous crab holes.
 Not sure how the sign was knocked down.
We found egg shells all around the area.

Some animal prints seen in the lower left and egg shells seen in the dune, upper right.

Leslie shows how far away from the nest that we were finding egg shells.

 In the area beyond where Leslie is shown in the picture above, we found this crab hole that may have been dug up by the animal whose prints we saw.  If you compare the nest opening with this hole, They are not the same and it does not look like the nest was opened up by the animal.
A different view of the same hole above that shows Leslie's feet.

Close up of Nest #4 showing an egg shell and an egg.

Egg shells we found by scouting the area.

We covered the crab holes and the nest and put the reed and sign back up and emptied the sand from the traps and put the egg shells in the trash bag.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday, July 22nd, Inventory Nest #1, our PN nest has been changed to Nest #13

Day started with a nice sunrise, and no rain.  The nests on the short end were fine, no ghost crab issues, yet.  Our ghost crab issues continue.  Leslie removed a large ghost crab from Nest #6, no egg shells were found.  Paulette reported two more eggs were lost for Nest #4, but no crabs reported in the traps.

Leslie found an eggshell by the large ghost crab hole in front of the PN nest.  So we have nest #13.  More poles were added to try to deter the horseback riders and a ghost crab trap was placed on this new nest.

Nest Inventory #1

Along with the Sunday Walkers, a small group of Waties volunteers and several guests joined the Sunday team out on the island to conduct an inventory of Nest #1. This nest emerged at 60 days which is about average; 55 to 65 days is the usual range. After waiting the required three days (to allow any remaining hatchlings to leave the nest), we uncovered the egg chamber. After removing a few hatched and unhatched eggs, we encountered a live hatchling! The hatchlings that are left in the nest are usually the weaker ones that wouldn't have made it in the natural setting. But we do help them if we encounter them in the nest. This morning, there were five of these hatchlings. All five made their way down the beach and into the water with close supervision by volunteers and guests.

The final outcome:

116 eggs originally laid by the mother
2 shells taken for DNA samples
58 eggs hatched
56 were unhatched
5 live hatchlings
No dead hatchlings

The number of unhatched eggs in this nest was a little higher than average and we did note that several of the eggs seemed to have roots clinging to them.

Bob & Diane, new volunteers for Sunday, got the exciting assignment of digging up Nest #1

The first two hatchlings found in the nest, three others were found

Bob checking to make sure all egg shells have been removed

The egg inventory

Go, go, go  . . . . be safe

The egg shell from our PN nest, now NEST #13

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday, July 19th activity

Let's start with some pretty Waties pictures taken by Bill Chapman.

then a not nice one....

The good news is Nest #1 emerged.
The baby turtle tracks looked more like trails than tracks due to the rain.

When we got to nests 6 & 7 we emptied the crab traps and replaced them.  They all had a crab.

Nest #4 had a large ghost crab hole in front of the reed.  We found as many pieces of egg and one whole egg as we could. We estimated four eggs lost. Crabs were in both traps which were emptied and replaced. 

Found false crawl #11 by marker 8. A quick in and out by mama turtle after the rain.

The tracks for our next crawl were nearly obliterated by the rain. We found one very shriveled egg by where we thought the pit might be.

We could see where she dragged herself up into the dunes. We probed that area and others that looked like maybes.

We called Steve--to the rescue! When he came out he could not find the nest either and declared it FC#12!  He did not think that the shriveled egg came from that nest. 

While we waited for Steve we picked up 30+ pairs of sunglasses in two large seaweed/grass clumps down by the ocean.  Lots of trash floating there.

When we finally came off the island we saw these morning glories.  Look for them.  At 9 AM they were in full bloom in the sun and loaded with butterflies!  As you approach the first gate they are to the right!  

Bill's favorite!

PS As I edited this I noticed I spelled crab crap a number of times.  I think it was subliminal.  I know, I know...the circle of life! Ugh!  Stop eating the baby turtles!