Monday, 1 June 2015

Colony news for May

Now that we have reached the end of May, lets see some vital Tern statistics for the first three weeks of the project.

After the four day gap between the first and second nest, numbers shot up dramatically. On the 25th of May, 3 new Terns began nesting. The next day, 9 more were on eggs and the numbers continued to grow in this way all week. On May 31st, we happily marked our 53rd nest in the 2015 Little Tern colony. Altogether, that made for 146 eggs and potential chicks so far!

Naturally, there have been some losses, but we have been very fortunate. Corvids led to the direct loss of just 2 nests. A single egg was also taken from a third nest, but we have watched her closely ever since and she has continued to incubate her remaining two eggs. The third egg in a Tern nest is often an insurance policy for exactly this kind of loss, so the remaining two chicks in her nest are actually more likely to benefit by not having to share food and other parental care with a third sibling! Also, Nest No.39 was swept away by the tide the day after laying. However, on contemplating her choice of nest site, I feel that this loss was inevitable – just look at this picture of the bank where she decided to bed down. Note how it is completely covered by crashing waves at high tide everyday!!
The wave battered bank on which one Tern unwisely decided to make a nest.

It is still early in the season, so any Terns that have lost eggs are very likely to re-lay and still hatch out some chicks. Some of the Terns are still venturing towards parenthood: more new nests have already been found this morning, while the mating and courting behaviours that are a precursor to nesting are still observed in the colony, meaning more eggs can be expected.

On the Ringed Plover front, 7 nesting attempts have so far occurred in the colony. 5 Plovers are still resolutely incubating their clutches. One Plover unfortunately lost her nest, but on the brighter side, another Plover successfully hatched out four Plover chicks!

As for the Oystercatcher, 4 nesting attempts were made. One Mother Oystercatcher is still unyieldingly attached to her nest – we are hoping to find chicks there any day now – while a second abandoned her egg. A third, rather defiant, Oystercatcher lost her first nest, but has made an industrious second attempt with a daring 4 egg clutch! We wish her well!

With this very positive start to the season, we step into June with great optimism. What we meet is howling winds and pounding rain, but, as I hang onto the side of the bird-hide for dear life, I can tell you that those Terns are sitting tight on the beach, and spirits are not dampened!

Susan and Paddy

A big thank you to Seamus for volunteering to fix the driver’s window on the TernMobile – its great to finally have it shut again (and keeping this rain out!).

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