28 April 2016
Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken
City of Gloucester
9 Dale Avenue Gloucester, MA 01930
Re: Ten Pound Island
Mayor Romeo Theken,
At your invitation, Mass Audubon staff members Jeff Collins, Chris Leahy, and I visited Ten Pound Island on April 8th with assistance from your harbormaster staff. Jeff is our Director of Ecological Management, Chris holds the Gerard Bertrand Chair of Ornithology and Natural History and is a Gloucester resident. I direct our Ecological Extension Service through which we offer technical assistance to conservation partners such as municipalities and land trusts.
We spent approximately one hour exploring the island, conducting a very brief plant and wildlife inventory, and discussing ways that we could assist the City in evaluating potential uses of the island including wildlife habitat enhancements and improvements to permit greater public access. Our immediate takeaways were as follows:
The island appears to serve as nesting habitat for several bird species including Black-crowned Night Heron, Herring Gull, and Common Eider. Other heron species have also been observed investigating the island during the pre-breeding period. Ten Pound is part of a constellation of North Shore rocky islands that provide critical nesting habitat for a number of bird species that have evolved to use the historically predator-free setting.
Norway Rats, a non-native invasive species, appear to be present on the island, based on presence of burrows. Rats are egg predators and can severely reduce reproductive success of a bird nesting colony.
While non-native species are the dominant plants, the vegetation structure is representative of other rocky islands with a few trees of medium height, dense shrubby areas, and some open areas of low ground cover and grasses, all ringed by bare rock.
There is currently no improved access to the island, in either the form of a protected landing or a distinct trail.
Unmanaged human access and any dog presence during bird nesting season would have a very negative impact on breeding success of the nesting birds.
Wildlife habitat could be dramatically improved with an effort to reduce invasive plant species and eradicate the rat population.
We observed no endangered or threatened plant, animal or bird species during our visit.
Any improved public a access to the island should be strictly managed to protect wildlife habitat.
Under appropriate management and professional interpretation, the educational and passive recreational value of the island could conceivably be enhanced, while protecting the natural resources it contains.
Additional Detail: No active Common Eider nests were seen, but old nest bowls and one predated egg from a previous nesting year was observed. Three Black-crowned Night Herons were seen including one nest that appeared to be active. Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls were present, but no evidence of their nesting on the island was observed. Our visit was early in the breeding season, and birds may be setting up nests now or in coming weeks.
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