Monday, 25 May 2015

Egging on the Terns

After finding our first nest, we had a four day wait until finally, while telescoping out of the hide this morning, I saw a Little Tern carefully turning her eggs in the scrape before settling back to incubate. A short time later, her mate landed beside the nest with a sand eel that she gratefully snatched off him and swallowed. Little Terns will catch and carry back food to their incubating mates, a strategy that ensures the eggs are protected for as much time as possible. They will also take turns incubating the eggs, so either male or female might be sitting on the nest. A fair trade!

On seeing the Terns feeding each other, I knew to search for a nest and discovered a single egg. It is likely another egg, or perhaps even two more, will be laid by tomorrow. By the end of the day, we had found three nests, with an egg apiece, bringing us to a total of four nests and five eggs. Plenty more can be expected if the number of successful courtships this morning is anything to go by! A large number of Terns are digging out scrapes for nesting and sampling the shingle for good nesting sites. They are also becoming very defensive of their little territories – all sure signs for breeding.

The shore in Kilcoole supports many bird species along with the Terns. Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher are also breeding within the colony, while Whimbrel and Dunlin feed on the foreshore among the Terns. Last night, we were excited to have Declan Manley down to Kilcoole to ring Dunlin in the lagoon behind the colony. He set four nets in the lagoon during low tide hours and waited for the rising tide to push the waders into our nets. Just before dark, we had a successful catch, including this youngster, who is still too young to produce the breeding plumage worn by adults in the summer season.

One of Kilcoole's own Dunlin (S. Doyle)
More to come,
Susan and Paddy

No comments:

Post a Comment