Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Start of Another Season!

It's now mid May, and the Little Terns are just arriving back at Kilcoole after spending the winter around the warm seas of west Africa. Over the past two weeks the numbers of Little Tern have been steadily increasing, with a peak of 150 birds on Saturday. We expect this number to continue rising over the coming weeks. The birds are busying themselves with displaying and courtship. The males can be seen flying over the colony calling while carrying freshly-caught sand-eels in the attempt to woo a mate. The first copulation was observed on Sunday the 13th, so we expect our first eggs within the next week!

The wardens have been onsite since the 30th of April, setting up the caravans and preparing the beach for the first Little tern nests. The winter storms have had profound effects on the beach at Kilcoole, and there's a notable abundance of sand in the preferred Tern nesting areas, so we will watch with interest to see how the terns deal with this potential challenge over the coming season. So far the wardens have spent most of their time erecting temporary flexi-net fencing, demarcating the safe areas in which to walk (to avoid inadvertently trampling chicks or eggs). We've erected the colony and public fencing, as well as the Wardens' hide. Some attention has also been directed at locating the nests of other beach-dwellers, and to date 7 Ringed Plover and 2 Oystercatcher nests have been found! The wardens are present with telescopes, and would be happy to show you the incubating Ringed Plovers, 'Oycs' and the Little Terns, so make sure to pop down for a visit!
We've only been on-site just over two weeks, but already the great biodiversity of Kilcoole is apparent; we've seen Harbour Porpoise, Otter, Grey Seal and even Harbour Seal in and around the colony. This year one of the wardens(yours truly) is a keen birder, and I've already had some excellent scarcities such as Yellow Wagtail, Garganey and Little Ringed Plover around the colony. Good numbers of migrating Whimbrel are also a feature, while every day there's a new flock of waders in the lagoons. If you have any bird sightings, or indeed any wildlife sightings in general from the area, feel free to tell a warden, and we'll include them on our blackboard which will soon be back in its rightful place welcoming walkers from the north with the latest colony news. 

Will update soon on the latest developments.


The caravans are back in place by the colony

Chris working on some flexi-net fencing

RP1- The first nest found on the beach this year

Erecting the hide

'The weather has taken a tern for the worse!'

A rare visitor to the lagoons behind the colony- A little ringed plover

Every inch of shingle is precious!


  1. On our way back to the car park today, we saw a black guillemot hunkered down on the ridge near the water. Lovely meeting and chatting to you and Sally.

  2. Good luck for the coming season, we have 230 birds back but no eggs yet,
    North Wales Little Tern Group at Gronant Dunes.