Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Visiting seabirds on One Palm Island

Over the month of May on our tiny One Palm Island more and more small and slender seabirds were appearing. Merely 100g in weight, greyish white, with a black nape-band these are Black-naped terns (see picture).


This species ranges in tropical and subtropical areas of West Pacific and Indian Ocean. It feeds on small fish which it catches in the lagoon; bird actually performs shallow dives in order to catch it's prey (www.birdlife.org)


These terns are known to be gregarious when breeding and roosting, and this exactly what is happening at One Palm Island at the moment; over 15 Black-naped terns are currently staying on the island, and some have arranged their "nests" (rather just depressions in the coral rubble) above the high tide water mark, and laid eggs. 

Incubation of eggs takes about 21-23 days and chicks are brooded for seven days (Gochfeld & Burger 1996). We will continue to observe the nests. 

Interestingly enough Black-naped terns can defend their offspring in bizarre way - projectile vomiting. The terns were observed and photographed doing this to a grey Heron close to Singapore (Deng, Lee & wee, 2008). Read more about this here... 

We are kindly asking our guests & hosts to avoid disturbing roosting birds; no walking on the western-most tip of One Palm island until the birds finish nesting & rearing chicks. 

References: 

Gochfeld, M., and J. Burger. 1996. Family Sternidae (Terns). Pp. 624-667 in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., & Sargatal, J., eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 3. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Deng, Lee & wee, 2008 "Black naped terns mobing a grey heron", Nature in Singapore

http://www.birdlife.org