Coastal bird biologist Janet Thibault of SCDNR, posted the yellow nesting area signs on North Beach and confirmed that we have nesting birds.
A familiar sight for many of us, American Oystercatcher Red U5 and his mate have nested on North Beach. Janet, who did her graduate work on Oystercatchers, says that U5 has been nesting here around Captain Sams Inlet since at least 2014. Last year, he and his mate tried three times to hatch eggs but were defeated by predator crows. This year they are nested in a more open area of the beach which hopefully will give them more time to spot marauding crows or gulls.
While we were posting the signs, we watched as a Least Tern prepared her scrape nest a short distance away from the Oystercatcher nest. By the time we finished with the signs, Janet found an egg in that nest as well!
Both American Oystercatchers and Least Terns will incubate eggs for about 25-30 days and then tend to their young for another 20 or so days until the chicks are able to fly. After the chicks are born, they will hide around any available beach plants, wrack and other debris whether inside the signs or not, to keep out of the sun. The chicks are very vulnerable during this time to walkers and beach vehicles and it takes a sharp eye to see them.
We have not had a successful nesting of Least Terns on Seabrook since 2018 when we had 53 nests. Fingers crossed we will have more Leasties come in to nest since they are colony nesters – there is safety from predators in numbers.
We’ll keep you informed as the season progresses. In the meantime, please stay well away from the nesting area and remember to watch where you walk when you are in dry sand or looking for shells in the wrack line.
-Submitted by Mark Andrews
(Image credit: Mark Andrews and Janet Thibault)