The strong Southerly winds over the past few days have been hampering our efforts to get the fence up around the colony. Some sections keep blowing over & have had to be re-enforced with extra posts. This morning I woke up to find that last nights hide tide coupled with the easterly element of the wind had flattened the seaward section of fencing overnight, which is rather annoying to say the least! At least we know now how far we can extend the fencing down the beach whilst keeping it out of reach from the tides. The shape of the beach this year might present a bit of a problem as it is very low & the high tide mark is quite far up compared to other years meaning that the amount of safe breeding habitat for the terns is largely reduced.
|Wind + fencing = tired wardens! © Niall Keogh|
It seems that the terns are aware of this already as they have been sitting up high on the beach over the past few days. With any luck the terns will take the hint & change the layout of the colony so as it is long & thin, ensuring the majority of birds nesting will be well out of reach from particularly high tides or storms. There are now approximately 85 Little Terns present at the colony & again there's plenty of courting, display flights & sandeel passing being observed. Some birds have even been seen apparently prospecting for nest sites. No mating has been noted yet though so we're still not expecting eggs anytime soon (the average laying date is about the 19th May).
|Female Little Tern (right) after receiving a Sandeel 'gift' from a courting male (left) © Niall Keogh|
The northward Spring passage of waders continues with counts of 35 Dunlin, 33 Black-tailed Godwits, 13 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Whimbrel, 17 Turnstone, 8 Oystercatchers, a Common Sandpiper & a single Sanderling. Bird of Prey have been particularly prevalent also with singles of Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine & Kestrel hunting the general area & even a female Marsh Harrier on Stringer's land on Sunday morning. Other noteworthy species over the past few days include a female White Wagtail, a Red-throated Diver, Manx Shearwaters, a Wheatear, 5 Little Egrets, 3 Shoveler, 2 Teal, Swift, a Grasshopper Warbler & 2 Stock Doves. A young Otter seen on Friday was a rare daytime sighting for this time of year (they usually go very nocturnal in summer around here).
|A Ringed Plover on the beach yesterday evening. The small size, dark colouration to upperparts & state of moult suggest it is a migrant from an Arctic breeding population as opposed to one of our own local birds © Niall Keogh|