Elegant Terns Find Place to Nest at Port of Long Beach
By Thomas Anderson
Beach suitable for nesting after fleeing
the Bolsa Chica.
By June, approximately 6,000 Elegant Terns had begun nesting on barges near the Queen Mary that were filled with large rocks destined for repair of the jetties at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. Although few of the birds were banded, tern experts including Mike Horn of California State University, Fullerton and Charles Collins of California State University, Long Beach surmised that they were likely to have been terns that abandoned Bolsa Chica. Nesting was successful, and by early July the young, curious nestlings began wandering too close to the edges of the barges and fell into the water. Unable to fly, and without waterproof feathers, human intervention was needed.
falling off the barges.
California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), International Bird Rescue (IBR), California Science Center, Aquarium of the Pacific, Los Cerritos Wetlands Trust, Heal the Bay and other private citizens with boats came to the rescue. Since terns need to be with their parents until they have fledged, birds healthy enough to pass triage were put back on the barges. About 635 birds with more serious injuries were taken to various care centers and later returned to the barges.
In order to prevent further injuries, IBR built special rafts that anchored to the barges to catch any wandering young terns. In all, 3200 terns were saved and eventually fledged. Many were seen foraging at the BCER through the end of August before migrating.
International Bird Rescure and placed
next to the barges.
All Photos by Melissa Loebl.
While the drone crash on Tern Island is still under investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office, BCER Manager Melissa Loebl is working with CDFW leaders in Sacramento on several fronts. First, two of three apps used by drone operators have agreed to note that Bolsa Chica is restricted airspace. They are working on language to make it clear that drones are not permitted in any California Ecological Reserve. They are also working with the FAA to ensure the BCER is shown as restricted airspace, and they’re working with California State Parks to enforce prohibition at Bolsa Chica State Beach (where 50% of drones seen at the BCER originate).
The Bolsa Chica Land Trust recently used a post card campaign to successfully lobby CDFW leadership for more warden presence at the Bolsa Chica. If you spot a drone at the BCER and no warden is present, call CalTip at 888-334-2258. All of these efforts contribute to educating people about appropriate behavior in an Ecological Reserve.