Sunday, 4 June 2017

Rook, Line and Sinker...

It's a beautiful day here in Kilcoole and this week has seen a few interesting developments. The Little Terns continue to exhibit copulation and territorial behaviours, and each day we find more incubating birds. Unfortunately, last week the colony was subjected to an intrusion from a few Rooks, and 8 nests were lost. However, the colony continues to grow, with the current number of active nests at 107!

A view of the hide from the pedestrian pathway.

To deter the crows from any future attempts to nab Little Tern eggs, Ken the Mannequin (so, ManneKen I 'spose?) has been installed at the northern end of the north colony. He stands to attention 24/7, rain, hail or shine, without food or rest... fueled only by the need for vigilance. 


   

   
Ken always knew he was meant for a purpose greater than posing in shop window displays in the latest CK y-fronts.

We have some exciting news to share: the first Oystercatcher nest in the colony has hatched, so we have adorable little Oystercatcher chicks running around! Though we haven't managed to capture a photograph just yet, we'll be sure to post one when we can. They're surprisingly hard to sneak up on!

The colony also supports a few Ringed Plover nests. Ringed Plover eggs are distinguished from Little Tern eggs due mainly to their pointed ends (and also, you'll usually find a Ringed Plover feigning a broken wing in the vicinity, in the hopes of distracting you, "the predator," from their brood). Below are a few photos comparing the eggs of Little Terns, Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers.


A clutch of Little Tern eggs. This clutch is complete at a max of 3 eggs. Photo taken under NPWS licence.

A clutch of Oystercatcher eggs, which in reality are considerably larger than those of Little Terns or Ringed Plovers. Photo taken under NPWS licence.
A Ringed Plover nest. Photo taken under NPWS licence.
                                    
There are over 200 Little Terns here at Kilcoole, doing their best to look after their clutches. Though there has been a couple of days of poor weather, and predators pose a threat, the Terns are dutifully incubating their eggs. They are the smallest breeding tern in Ireland, but they are not defenceless... here is a video of them swooping and diving on a poor Oystercatcher whom they felt annoyed by!

video
Footage recorded under NPWS license.

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