There has been some local progress with the hatching of new chicks. On the roof of the shed across the pier head from the ship we saw a new chick walking around. One of the parents sits patiently by the nest to protect the chick from marauding visitors.
Claudia and Charles are getting impatient and testy. When I stopped by the other day she about snapped my head off when I made a little joke about speeding up the hatching process. She also has been very secretive about just how many eggs are in the nest. Maybe it has been so long that she has forgotten.
Charles continues to hang around the gun tub but he, too, stays away from the nest except for those times when he sits in for Claudia so she can feed and get some exercise. I have to give him a lot of credit for just hanging around to provide domestic support.
Editors Note: When the Gull chicks hatch they are capable of walking around almost immediately. The plumage of the new born chicks is brown and they blend in with the nest coloring quite successfully to add to their natural camouflage. It is not unusual for predators to attack the chicks so it is imperative that one on the parents be ‘on station’ all the time to provide protection.
A parallel situation existed when the ship was in service during World War II and the US Navy Armed Guard was ‘on station’ in the same gun tub to provide defensive protection from both enemy ship and aircraft threats. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
The crew on the SS Jeremiah O’Brien has been very supportive of the nesting couple and they have cordoned off the aft gun tub so the birds can have some privacy and protection. There are no obvious predators on board the ship and the only danger comes from other birds.