Friday, 21 June 2013

Plumbers, Snatchers & Grass Raptors

The section of beach & sand dune at the tern colony site which is fenced off & wardened during the breeding season is also home to a number of other species which we monitor & protect, namely Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher & Skylark.

Ringed Plovers tend to nest a couple of weeks earlier than the terns and there are often pairs already on eggs when we arrive in early May. This year however it was well into mid-May by the time we found the first clutch, seemingly in accordance with the late Spring all round. Since then all has been going well for them and we have a total of 7 breeding pairs which is about average. Two pairs are still incubating eggs whilst the remaining five pairs have hatched their chicks, which can be seen running along the short vegetation line between the shingle beach & sand dunes where they feed on tiny invertebrates.

Ringed Plover incubating, hatching & chicks © Niall Keogh
Our usual two pairs of Oystercatchers laid three eggs each. One clutch hatched on Monday with the young being diligently cared for by their raucous parents ever since then (I get mobbed by the adults constantly, even whilst on the path away from the beach!). The second pair have just hatched their eggs between yesterday evening & this morning! Unlike the Ringed Plover chicks which feed themselves on insects, the parent Oystercatchers must collect food for their young in The Breaches estuary & fly it across to the beach where the chicks are located. A lot of effort when carrying one ragworm at a time!

Oystercatcher pair, clutch of 3 eggs & newly hatched (and hatching!) chick © Niall Keogh

Finally, we have one pair of Skylarks nesting amongst the Marram grass inside the colony fence. They successfully raised one brood of 2-3 young already and appear to be making a start on a second (the pair was seen mating & carrying nesting material). The male continues to sing his heart out, way up overhead during song flight, but also from the ground & on the flexi-net fence around the tern colony.

Singing Skylark © Paul Smith

And if you we're wondering what the title of this blog post is about... We've been making up nick-names for most of the bird species around Kilcoole! So guess which is which!

1 comment:

  1. Plumbers = Ringed Plovers
    Snatchers = Oystercatchers
    Grass raptors = Skylarks

    Would you consider colour-ringing the Oycs to see if they turn up on Sandymount Strand in the autumn?