This report summarizes the results of a study conducted from August 28 through August 31, 2006. The purpose of the study was to document commuting behavior, general flight direction, and the altitude at which terns fly. Observations occurred near a major fall staging area where high concentrations of terns are known to occur. Common (Sterna hirundo) and Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) are found in southeastern Massachusetts from May through September. Major breeding, feeding, and staging areas are located in and near Buzzards Bay and Nantucket Sound (Figure 1). After the breeding season, terns congregate in large numbers at staging areas prior to migrating south in late August and September. South Beach and Monomoy Island in Chatham are significant staging areas for the federally and state endangered Roseate Tern. Surveys in 1998 (Trull et al. 1999) found Roseate Terns roosted in the thousands at only two sites in Nantucket Sound, South Beach and the northern portion of Monomoy Island. Subsequent surveys performed by Cape Wind and Massachusetts Audubon confirmed the large concentration of terns at these locations (Perkins et al. 2004, Sadoti et al. 2005, and USACE 2004). The South Beach staging area includes Roseate Terns from as far away as Maine and New York (Trull et al. 1999). Cape Cod and the Islands appear to be the major staging area for much of the New England population of Roseate Terns. In addition, the area appears to be a major staging area for Common Terns, which are listed as a species of special concern by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage Program.
Tern Observations Near Monomoy Island
ESS Group (2006). Tern Observations Near Monomoy Island. Report by ESS Group Inc. pp 13.