First Tropical Shearwater chick to successfully fledge on Desroches Island. By Jo Bluemel
Desroches Island became home to a pair of breeding Tropical Shearwaters at the end of 2015. They laid an egg in June 2016 which hatched around the 27 July. Here is an update on how our first Tropical chick is doing since the last blog.
At the end of August after heavy rain the whole Tropical Shearwater burrow was found by the ICS team completely collapsed, leaving the parents and their small downy chick open to the elements. The ICS team quickly fashioned a new roof from coconut fibers, an old burlap sack and some sticks (see photo below). The parents seemed happy with their new temporary roof and continued about their business of feeding and fattening up their young chick.
ICS revisited the burrow early in September. The chick was still a very fluffy C1 stage chick showing only downy feathers (see photo below). The chick looked nearly twice the size that it was last month and now it’s parents have started to leave it alone in the burrow during the day to go out fishing.
The following week the chick started to show the first partial contour feathers, which we record as a C2 stage (see photo below). You can see the contour feathers mixed with downy feathers that are still present on the head, breast, back and tail giving our chick quite a funky hair style!
Our Tropical chick had almost reached C3 stage (no downy feathers) by the 28th September, meaning that it was nearly ready to leave the nest. At the start of October the trio had found the time and energy to dig a new burrow just behind where the old one was, abandoning their ICS designed accommodation. During the final monitoring session on the 6th October the team were very happy to find that the chick had left successfully to begin its life on the open sea. It will be around eight years before this juvenile reaches breeding maturity and will live to around 20 years of age. We expect to see the parents in about six months time for their next breeding attempt and hope find more Tropical Shearwaters nesting on Desroches over the years to come.
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