Common Tern

Common Tern
Photo: Inge Curtis

Bird-lovers and conservationists waited anxiously if a colony of some 25,000 seabirds would adopt an alternative base for breeding in May 2020. The south island where they nested for years was paved over in the winter of 2019-20 for a $3.8 bn expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel in Tidewater Virginia. The Commonwealth government approved as a new sanctuary Fort Wool, a deserted manmade island and former naval battery. But would the birds come if they never used it before?

They did. We expect another successful year for terns, gulls and skimmers, some not so abundant as this Common Tern. Hopefully, they will continue to breed there and feed for decades to come in the rich waters not far off the shipping lane of the Norfolk naval base.

By Roger Gosden

British-born scientist specializing in reproduction & embryology. Career as professor & research director spanned from Cambridge to Cornell's Weill Medical College in NYC. Married to Lucinda Veeck Gosden, embryologist for the first successful IVF team in America. Retired early to Williamsburg, Virginia, to write and recover from 'nature deficit disorder'. Currently a visiting scholar at William & Mary.

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