I bumped into Matt Drennan, adjunct faculty member at College of the Atlantic (and rowing boat in photo above), last week at Arnold’s Video in Bar Harbor. I had traveled with him and other COA students and staff out to Egg Rock in Frenchman Bay on May 22 to watch them count seabird nests. The May 22 trip was cut short, however, because of heavy rain.
Matt told me they went back out on June 1, under sunny skies, and counted 750 nests, which is an increase of about 100 since the last count in 2007. The island is owned and maintained by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which allows nest surveys once every five years.
There were many three-egg nests, he said (most are one- or two-eggers), and 17 eider nests. The vast majority of the nests are used by herring gulls, though there are few used by great black-backed gulls. Some gull nests had an eider egg stuck in there with the gull eggs, Matt said. He said he’s not sure why this happens.
Not all those eggs will turn into adult birds. Matt said that predation by bald eagles, which have rebounded in Maine after the federal government set protections in place decades ago, could result in many chicks on Egg Rock being eaten later this summer. But the increase in seabird nests on Egg Rock is good news, he said, because most every other offshore seabird colony in eastern Maine has seen a decrease in the past decade or so.
There is one non-eagle species that seems to be doing okay, however. Matt said that around the Jonesport area, the seabird colonies are dominated by Canadian geese.
“Not even an eagle will tangle with a Canadian goose,” he said.