Once a very plentiful part of our waterbird population in the St Lawrence River Valley, the Common Tern has dropped to significantly low levels, due to a loss of nesting habitat and the expansion of Ring-billed Gulls. As a result of this dramatic decline in numbers, the Common Tern was listed as a threatened species in New York State. Save The River (STR) and the Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) have formed a cooperative effort, in conjunction with Dr. Lee Harper, of Riveredge Associates, to monitor Common Tern nesting areas on the River. Residents from the Chippewa Bay area have also been very involved in helping to monitor and restore Tern habitat.
STR first became involved in 1997, with TILT volunteering the use of their Eagle Wing Shoals and Tidd Island soon thereafter. TILT maintains some of the last natural nesting shoals, still utilized by Common Terns, on the Upper St. Lawrence River.
All of the date collected by STR and TILTs volunteers is gathered on standardized reporting format and reported the o the season to Dr. Harper. This critically important information helps Dr. Harper plan for habitat restoration efforts. Most of the navcells have now been encircled by plastic netting, which helps to keep young chicks from jumping off the high cells into the River before they can fly. A necessary tool at chick banding time is a small fish net to retrieve jumpers who jump into the water. The Eagle Wings shoals located just off Clayton, has been covered with a polypropylene line grid, installed each spring and broken down late summer by TILT and STR volunteers. Holes are drilled into the granite and steel bars are stuck into the holes to anchor the grid. It is an intense fun day long effort. TILT transports the crew out to the islands in their fantastic work boat, lunch is provided for all volunteers. And more volunteers are always welcome!
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