Species at Risk: Great Blue Heron

Two Species at Risk on Cortes Island

Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI) is asking Cortes residents to report any sightings of two species at risk on the Island. 

Photo credit: Napoleon the Western Toad by Vicki Watkins via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Species at Risk: Western Toad

There has not been any record of the Western Toad on Cortes Island since 2015.

“They were on the island but we haven’t had any recent records and we don’t know if they are still here,” said Helen Hall,  Executive Director of FOCI. 

“Western toads are really distinctive, they have a bumpy skin and a cream stripe down their backs. You can’t really mistake them.  Toads crawl, while frogs leap, and they also lay their eggs in strings. Right now both toads and frogs are coming out of winter hibernation, and they are moving into wetlands to breed. So it is a good time  of year to look out for them and we would be absolutely delighted is someone found a Western Toad on Cortes.”

“They could be here quite easily, but we haven’t had any records for five or six years.

Species at Risk: Great Blue Heron

“Another species we’d love to hear about is the Great Blue Heron, particlulary whether they are nesting at the moment. There used to be quite a number of different rookeries on the island. One at Smelt Bay, another in Mansons Lagoon. Quite big rookeries with lots of nests. They’ve mostly disappeared. That’s happened in lots of places, largely due to eagle predation. So what the herons have done now is, instead of being in colonies where they are really obvious to eagles, they tend to be more isolated,”    

“So over the last few years, we’ve been trying to find out if there are any nests on the island. Last year, we had one nest reported. The year before, we didn’t have any and the year before that I think we had one in a different location.”

“They are pretty obvious when you see them. They can make a lot of noise and there is a lot of guano at the base of the tree.”

“We are really to keen to find out of there are Herons nesting, and this is the time of year they would be nesting at the moment, so it would be great if people can keep their eyes open and tell us if they spot a nest.”

“Those two species are ones we are really interested in and it is a good time of year to be looking out for them.”

Photo credit: Western Toad – courtesy FOCI website

Links of Interest:

Top photo credit: Great Blue Heron by Ada Durden via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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