Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bellingham's Caspian Tern Colony

John Stark a writer for the Bellingham Herald has written several stories on the Caspian tern colony on the now vacant former paper mill site on Bellingham's waterfront. I really enjoyed this line Mr. Stark wrote in his latest article: "While Dungeness Spit offered pristine sands, the deteriorating pavement of the old mill site may have been more attractive to the birds for one reason: it is a more exclusive gated community".
Upwardly mobile Caspian terns are apparently getting too good for the riff raff of other wildlife in Washington State. The land is now owned by the Port of Bellingham and has been vacant for several years. It is perfect tern habitat for nesting and the clever terns have figured it out and moved in. Apparently they like to establish large colonies and will congregate at one location for a number of years and then move if bothered too much by predators. Large colonies have been located at Dungeness Spit on the northeast portion of the Olympic Peninsula, near Everett and on the dredge spoils islands in the Columbia River estuary.
The Port of Bellingham plans to make the area less attractive for the terns due to environmental cleanup plans. Early redevelopment will crowd out the terns. It will be interesting to see where the next exclusive tern community will be built.

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