Bird-wise we've had some interesting visitors around lately. Mediterranean and Iceland Gulls were welcome scarcities, as was a very rare spring record of a fantastic Little Stint. Non-avian highlights included Harbour Porpoise and several Viviparous Lizards.
When I last posted I mentioned that we were expecting our first eggs by the 20th of May. We weren't far off! Today, the 21st of May, we struck gold!
Our morning and afternoon were occupied with a visiting film crew, who are working on a documentary exploring the Kilcoole Little tern Project, more on that at a later stage. In the late afternoon all three day wardens focused on trying to locate the first tern nest. The shingle was scanned up and down until a suspicious looking bird caught the eye. Sitting hunched down, fluffed out, tail-tips slightly raised. All typical of an incubating bird...could it be? We quickly nipped over to where it was sitting and confirmed our suspicions...AN EGG! The relevant details were recorded, marker stones were placed to allow easier location from the hide/path, and we bade a hasty retreat to allow the bird to get back to incubating. Over the next week we can expect more eggs to be added to this nest until it reaches 3 eggs. After that the clutch is incubated for three weeks before, all going well, a fresh batch of chicks spill out onto the shingle!
Later on in the day another nest was found, this also containing a single egg. The egg flood-gates are opening, so to speak, and in the coming days we expect to find many more nests. Tern numbers are variable but staying strong at around 120-200
As a result of these developments the wardens have commenced full monitoring, and there will now be a warden present on the beach at all hours of the day and night. This is mainly to prevent disturbance from predators/rambunctious dogs. Wardens will be on hand to answer any questions and show you the incubating terns, as well as providing a visual deterrent to would-be predators.
Unfortunately, despite best efforts, there will always be predation. This evening while trying to get a roost count from the hide I observed a sparrowhawk ambush and kill an unsuspecting little tern, taking it away over the buckthorn. It was equal-parts frustrating and awe-inspiring. With birds as fast as sparrowhawks or peregrines not much can be done to thwart an attack in progress. Fortunately we've got a few tricks up our sleeves, and in the attempt to deter the sparrowhawk from making such a bold attack again an old friend will be may-ken his return to the dunes. More on that soon....
|The unfurling of the red flag- symbolising the completion of colony set-up|
Come check out our blackboards!
|K1! Can you spot it?|
|A tiny visitor to the lagoon- A little stint|