June 18th 2016: The Cahow nesting season which is winding down, has thus far produced record numbers from the Nonsuch Island Colonies with 6 out of a total 10 chicks having fledged so far and is on track to produce the 2nd highest number of fledgelings from the whole colony, with 58, just down from 59 in 2014.
Recently named “Tempest” the star of the CahowCam livestream, attracted the largest audiences in the CahowCam’s 4 year history with over 6,000 viewers around the world watching live when he hatched and with 10’s of thousands watching his progress over the following 91 days.
J-P Rouja from the Nonsuch Expeditions Team said:
"This year we left the camera running after the chick had fledged on June 5th to see what happens immediately after the burrow is abandoned, and sure enough as happened last year within an hour a land crab made its way into the burrow to start feeding on the nesting materials.
To our utmost surprise however around 4 am a small petrel looking seabird first called into and then entered the chamber as if prospecting for a new nest site. This bird was less than half the size of a Cahow with a different vocal pattern so we knew it was something new. He spent about an hour rummaging around and then departed before sunrise leaving all of us who were watching online not sure what we had just witnessed and thankful that it had been recorded."
Chief Terrestrial Conservation Officer Jeremy Madeiros initially pointed us towards the Storm Petrel family, which is of the same nocturnal, burrow nesting tube nosed family as the Cahow, however none of these are known to have ever landed or nested in Bermuda, let alone be filmed doing so.
The Nonsuch Expeditions Team digitized the video and the audio recordings so that they could be shared amongst the local and international birding community experts and the consensus thus far confirms Mr. Madeiros’s suspicion that it is the dark rumped variation of a Leach’s Storm Petrel. These normally nest 800 to 900 miles away in the Canadian Maritimes and are less than half the size of Cahow with a wingspan of 19” versus 36” to 38” for a Cahow.
Jeremy Madeiros says:, "We all thought we had witnessed an amazing one off event, however the CahowCam has allowed us to witness two more 3.30am visits as this little bird who seems to be intent on occupying this nest and attracting a mate. The odds of this bird not only deciding to nest in Bermuda 800 + miles from home but also happening to pick the one burrow where we have a camera operating must be a million to one, but now that he is here there is actually the remotest possibility of him succeeding in attracting a mate as the species is known to feed in our open ocean waters.
This is a great gift for today, World Ocean’s day, as it shows that even as we increase our understanding, there is so much more to learn."
What is now evident is that through the ongoing successful management and protection of the slowly increasing Cahow colony there are other positive unintended consequences such as encouraging other species to nest here as well.
As of 4.30 am on June 8th “Stormy” as he is now nicknamed was sitting in the entrance of the recently vacated Cahow burrow on the edge of a cliff on Nonsuch Island calling out to sea for a prospective mate, whilst unknowingly connected to the digital world.
Please login to www.nonsuchisland.com/live-cahow-cam/ for replays and updates or watch live at 3.30 am or so tomorrow morning if you are awake and so inclined.
Best of luck Stormy on a rather stormy World Oceans day. :)
UPDATE: June 9th He visited again between 2 am and 4,30 am arranging the nest and calling out for a mate.
UPDATE: June 10th He is back again!
UPDATE: June 17th He is back yet once again! Virtually every night for the past 12 days!