The numbers of Little Terns present has increased dramatically since my last blog post. There are now 70+ birds present at the K-colony, most of which are already going through the motions of courtship. Superb aerial displays, males presenting Sandeels to females & even some apparent nest-site selection have all been observed in the past two days. Once we have an idea of where the terns seem to be settling down to breed then we'll make a start on putting up the protective flexi & electric fencing.
|A male tern presenting a sandeel to a female © James Hayes|
|Little Terns chilling out on the foreshore © Niall Keogh|
Before moving the caravans across Webb's field, I censused the area for breeding Lawping in order to mark out a safe route for us to cross. To my surprise there were even more breeding pairs than I had ever anticipated! Up to 17 pairs are present, consisting of 10 pairs with chicks, 4 pairs sitting on nests & another 3 pairs which seem as if they are holding territory. A fantastic result for them so far & the large number of chicks present indicates there hasn't been any major Fox activity in the area lately. We'll be sure to keep a close eye on their numbers over the season. One brood of four chicks were sighted near the track whilst we were driving across the field so I took the opportunity to ring them.
|Lapwings © Niall Keogh|
There are still some nice numbers of migrant waders present with peaks counts over the past few days as follows: 145 Dunlin, 53 Whimbrel, 47 Oystercatchers, 33 Ringed Plover, 7 Sanderling, 6 Turnstone, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Curlew, 1 Redshank & 1 Common Sandpiper. Of particular interest were a couple of 'arctica'-type Dunlin & 'tundrae'-type Ringed Plover which are on their way to breeding grounds well to the North as their names suggest!
Other sightings of note in the area: 16 Light-bellied Brent Geese, 5 Gadwall, 3 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler, 7 Teal, 13 Shelduck (including a prospecting pair), a Peregrine, 5 Little Egrets, a male White Wagtail, 6 Wheatears, 5 Sedge Warblers, small numbers of House Martins, Sand Martins & Swifts, good numbers of Swallows (200-300 North per. hour on Thurs), 3 Stock Doves, a singing Yellowhammer & a nice pair of Stonechats at the BirdWatch Ireland reserve.
|Male Reed Bunting at the BirdWatch Ireland reserve © Niall Keogh|
|Some of the Brent Geese in Webb's field © Niall Keogh|