The weather eventually calmed down enough yesterday for us to make a start on getting the seaward fence back up. As it stands we should have the fencing around the K-colony (i.e. the section of the colony north of The Breaches, on the Kilcoole side) finished by the weekend. The section of the beach south of The Breaches, known as the N-colony (i.e. on the Newcastle side) irregularly supports breeding Little Terns from year to year. The numbers present there can range from none at all to quite significant (e.g. 15 pairs in 2010 & 20 pairs in 2009). I suspect that several pairs may nest there this year given that the extent of the K-colony section of beach is much reduced so we'll get around to fencing an area south of The Breaches as soon as we can.
The fine weather this morning finally allowed for some decent censusing too. A lovely flock of c.120 adult Little Terns were resting at the mouth of The Breaches at 06:00am, making frequent dreading flights. Many others were present higher up on the beach continuing with nest-site selection. It'll be interesting to see how the numbers pan out on the run up to the first egg being laid. Early on in the season the terns may travel widely, visiting different colonies along the East coast before they settle down to breed so we may have 50 birds one day, 80 the next, 20 the following day then 150 the day after!
We've now got 4 pairs of Ringed Plover breeding on site, consisting of 3 pairs in the K-colony with a total of 12 young (8 of which I've ringed) & a 4th pair at the N-colony currently incubating 4 eggs. Furthermore, there's also a pair of Oystercatchers nesting in the N-colony & incubating 3 eggs (typical clutch size) which have been coded as OC1 (I'll let you work that one out yourselves!). Both the Ringed Plover & Oystercatcher nests in the N-colony have been temporarily fenced off with flexi-net & marked with signposts to ensure that people or dogs don't trample the eggs.
Oystercatcher nest pics from last year © Niall Keogh
The 'big news' yesterday involved the finding of a SHORT-TOED LARK (rare vagrant from the Mediterranean) by yours truly along the coastal path between the N-colony & the railway track at midday. It was a lifer for me (a species I've never ever seen before) & the 1st record for Co. Wicklow apparently so needless to say I did a little victory dance on the beach!!! A great bird which showed very well at times. It moved up & down the beach between The Breaches & Six Mile Point (Newcastle) for most of the day and was seen right up to 20:00pm. It was successfully twitched by about 15 birders over the course of the afternoon/evening. No sign of it this morning though unfortunately.
More on the lark here:
Short-toed Lark © Mick Boyle
Just got a phone call off my father literally 2 minutes ago to say there's a 2nd calendar-year Hobby flying about Six Mile Point, hunting! And I'm stuck in the office here writing this blog! TYPICAL!!! Anyways, in other news, the female Marsh Harrier continues to show well, usually hunting in & around Stringer's channels and was even seen circling high above the tern colony at one stage yesterday, almost looking like it was heading out to sea (scared the bejaysus out of the terns too!). A Quail flushed along the coastal path at Newcastle yesterday by local birder Pat King whilst on the way up to see the Short-toed Lark was an excellent find! A female Red-breasted Merganser flying south at sea yesterday was a notable record (scarce in Wicklow), 4 feral Greylag Geese were feeding on the fields inland whilst Water Rail, Willow Warbler & Snipe were all noted this morning and new for the project list so far this season. Other than that, the usual waders are still moving through, a male Kestrel has been hunting along the dunes & the Buzzard is still present inland from The Breaches.
The Otter put on a fine display this morning, fishing in The Breaches at 08:00am & there's now plenty of Common Blue butterflies on the wing along the dunes.
Right...I'm off for this Hobby!
Right...I'm off for this Hobby!