Friday, June 10, 2011

Episode 68 (June 13, 2011): Royal Tern

And see below (after the transcript) for this week's selection of  news and upcoming events.

            From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 13, 2011.
            This week we feature another mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 15 seconds, and see if you can guess what’s making the squawking and whistling sounds.  And here’s a hint: If you get a TURN visiting Virginia’s beaches in the summer,  you might call this bird “Your majesty.”
            If you guessed a Royal Tern, you’re right!   One of 16 species of terns in North America, the Royal Tern is a common shorebird in summer along the Chesapeake Bay and other mid-Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines.  The bird’s majestic title comes from the shaggy black cap that appears on its head during breeding season and conspicuously looks like a king or queen’s crown.  Royal Terns feed on fish, shrimp, and crabs.  Beachgoers and sailors often witness terns in mid-hunt, hovering just above the water’s surface and then diving in after their prey.  Perhaps because of the sailing world’s familiarity with this bird’s hunting practices, a few sailing vessels are called “The Royal Tern,” including an Audubon Society ship on which Theodore Roosevelt visited Louisiana marshes in 1915.  Thanks to Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio for providing this recording.
            For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.  END TRANSCRIPT
            Show notes:  Quinn Hull researched and helped write this week’s show.  Information on Royal Terns was taken from A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins et al. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001); “Royal Tern,” by P.A. Buckley and Francine G. Buckley (2002) Royal Tern, on “The Birds of North America Online,” Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (accessed 6/10/11); “Royal Tern,” Ship Index Web site, (accessed 6/9/11); and “Roosevelt, Friend of the Birds,” Library of Congress “American Memory” Web site (accessed 6/10/11).
            Information about terns in the Chesapeake Bay area is available from the Chesapeake Bay Program Web site at (6/10/11).

While You're Here: This Week's Selection of Recent Virginia Water News
            For other water news items from Virginia and elsewhere, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at
            1.  According to a Fertilizer Institute analysis released May 31 of data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, nutrient inputs (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) to U.S. corn production decreased from 3.9 pounds of nutrients per bushel of corn in1980 and to 1.6 pounds per bushel in 2010.  Total U.S. corn production increased from 6.6 billion bushel in 1980 to 12.5 billion bushels in 2010.  Source: U.S. corn production nearly doubles using fewer nutrients, Farm and Dairy, 6/7/11.

            2.  In June, full-scale work began to remove contaminated sediments from the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River off Money Point in Chesapeake.  A test area was dredged in 2009, with good results reported by 2010 in the health of fish in the section.  The overall project will remove sediments from about 25 acres of river that were contaminated by decades of pollution by riverside wood-treatment operations, with contaminated sediments now five feet deep in many places.  Source: Group working to 'get the goo out' of Elizabeth River, Virginian-Pilot, 6/8/11.

            3.  On June 1, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) announced that it had received a $50,000 grant from the Dominion Fund (Dominion Resources’ charitable-giving organization) for an underwater video system that will allow detailed, sustained, and low-impact  filming of aquatic life in the Chesapeake Bay.  The first use of the system will begin in summer or fall 2011 as part of VIMS research on the behavior of Blue Crabs and other predators as they forage among oyster reefs in the Great Wicomico and Lynnhaven rivers.  Other areas where it will be useful include beds of submerged vegetation or in waters obscured by suspended sediments.  Compared to photography by SCUBA divers, the new equipment allows longer examination periods with less impact on aquatic life.  Source: Dominion funds underwater video system at VIMS, Virginia Institute of Marine Science News Release, 6/1/11.

            4.  On June 6, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved the proposal by the university’s College of Natural Resources and Environment for a new meteorology major.  If approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the new program would be the first meteorology bachelor of science degree program in Virginia.  The expected start of the program is the spring 2012 semester.  The program—to be located in the Geography Department—would have a particular focus on using geographic information technology to assess impacts of severe weather and climate change on landscapes and water resources.  Source: Virginia Tech to add meteorology bachelor's degree, Virginia Tech News, 6/8/11.

            5.  On June 7-8, the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Fisheries Goal Implementation Team held its semi-annual meeting at Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County.  The team consists of fishery managers from Chesapeake Bay states and the District of Columbia, along with representatives from several federal agencies and non-profit natural resource organizations (Virginia members include staff from the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Marine Resources Commission).  The team’s purpose is to provide scientific information to improve management and recovery of oysters, Blue Crabs, Menhaden, Striped Bass, and alosines (American Shad, Hickory Shad, Blueback Herring, and Alewife).  The June 6-7 meetings focused on ways to measure oyster-recovery efforts throughout the Bay; how Blue Crab population assessments are used to guide management decisions; and efforts to develop a management plan for the non-native, invasive Blue Catfish.  Source: Chesapeake Bay Program Sustainable Fisheries Web site, 6/9/11.
And This Week's Upcoming Water Meetings and Other Events
            For more events, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and  Other Events, online at
Virginia Government Policy And Regulatory Meetings, occurring between June 16 and 22.
            For more information, click on the meeting dates. Click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all Virginia government meetings, or here for Virginia General Assembly legislative committee and commission meetings.  For TMDL meetings, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site.

            1.  On June 16 at 9 a.m., the Stakeholder Committee for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Nutrient Exchange Program meets at the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regional office in Glen Allen.  (The committee was formed as part of Senate Joint Resolution 334 in the 2011 Virginia General Assembly, which called for a study of the possible expansion of the credit-exchange program.)
            2.  On June 17 at 2 p.m., the Conservation and Recreation Board meets at Hungry Mother State Park near Marion (Smyth County).
            3.  On June 20, 9:30 a.m., at the DEQ regional office in Glen Allen, is a meeting of the Regulatory Advisory Panel helping to develop a permit for small renewable energy projects using combustible materials, such as solid waste or biomass.  (The DEQ is developing a permit by rule for small renewable energy projects from combustible sources, a regulatory action that the 2009 General Assembly—HB 2175/SB 1347—required for small renewable energy projects from various sources (wind, solar, and combustible sources).  More information and relevant documents on the combustible-substances permit are available at
            4.  On June 20 at 10 a.m., the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board meets at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond.
            5.  On June 21 at 9 a.m., the Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals meets at the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation office in Richmond.
            6.  On June 21, 1:15 p.m., at the Russell County Office Building in Lebanon, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy holds an informal fact-finding hearing on an objection to permit applications by CNX Gas for two coalbed methane operations.
            7.  On June 22, 7 p.m., at the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting room in Orange, the DEQ holds a public hearing on the permit application by Orange County for a new sanitary landfill. 

Meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for Impaired Waters
          1.  June 21, 6 p.m., at the Town of Orange Public Works Department’s community room, on the TMDL implementation plan for bacteria-impaired segments of Goldmine Creek in Louisa County; Beaver Creek, Mountain Run, Pamunkey Creek, and Terry’s Run in Orange County; and Plentiful Creek in Spotsylvania County. 

Educational, Recreational, and Stewardship Events
            For more information, click on the links to organizations or events (both are hyperlinked whenever possible).
            1.  Starting June 13 and continuing through September, at all Virginia state parks: 75th Anniversary events celebrating the June 15, 1936, opening of a statewide park system in Virginia.  June.13-19: free parking and admission at all parks for "birthday week"; June 18: birthday celebrations at parks; and June 14-September 5: 75 Days of Summer contest.
             1.  June 24-26, Hungry Mother State Park, Smyth County: 6th Annual Herp Blitz.  Survey for amphibians and reptiles, sponsored by the Virginia Herpetological Society.  More information: Kory Steele,
            2.  June 28, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (Board Room), 4000 West Broad Street, Richmond: Open House on Public Access to Chesapeake Bay and Tributary Rivers.  Organized by the National Park Service.  Information provided by participants will help the Park Service develop the "Chesapeake Bay Region Public Access Plan" due in 2012. Other open houses (same time of day) will be Jun. 21 in Harrisburg, Penn. (Fish and Boat Commission HQ), Jun. 22 in Baltimore (Ft. McHenry Visitor Center), and Jun. 27 in Washington (Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library).
            4.  June 28, 9:00am - 3:00pm, 12806 Mink Farm Road, Thurmont, Maryland: Using Forestry Practices to Set and Meet Your TMDL Phase II Goals.  Potomac Watershed Information Exchange, organized by the Potomac Watershed Partnership, Cacapon Institute, High View, W. Va.  More information: (304) 856-1385, or