Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Early June Update

In the last nearly two weeks since we found our first active nest we've gone all the way up to over 100 active nests, with no signs of slowing down. So far, it's been mostly plain sailing, we've had a small set-back with 7 nests lost to oystercatcher, but fortunately this has stopped...for now...
    I'm pleased to report also that the sparrowhawk I mentioned in my last blogpost has not proven to be as much of a menace as was feared. Since losing the adult tern at the start of the season we've had no more losses, despite the bird still being seen occasionally. 
    At present the main duties of the wardens consist of daily incubation checks which involve scoping out every nest to check that the adult is still present and that all is going well. We're also doing a hefty amount of nest-finding. First chicks are expected in about two-weeks time. Then the pandemonium begins!
  The local Ringed Plover nests are just starting to hatch now. Of a total of 9 nests 6 have hatched so far, with several chicks ringed already. These small fluffy 'heads with legs' are the polar opposite of the tern chicks, they're incredibly precocious and within a few hours of hatching can be seen sprinting up and down the beach, feeding and preening themselves and only occasionally returning to their parents for warmth. The terns on the other hand are altricial , meaning they need considerable care and attention during their formative months, constantly being fed by doting and diligent parents. 
    In addition to the terns and plovers we also have several Oystercatcher nesting on the beach, some of which can be seen from the public path near the railway bridge. As tern wardens we have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the oystercatchers, while they've recently caused some trouble for us by depredating several nests they also provide an immense helping hand by acting as the colony 'guard-dogs'. Should a crow or raptor(or warden) come too close to the colony they will immediately start alarm calling and vociferously dive-bombing the intruder. This not only alerts the wardens to a potential unseen threat, but often proves sufficient to drive away that threat, be that crows or the dreaded sparrowhawk. 
    Oystercatcher generally nest on the beach amongst shingle and sand. Generally...
I was walking down to the hide one morning when I noticed an oystercatcher fly up, seemingly from the train tracks. On investigation I noticed that there was a nest smack bang in the middle of the tracks! There are now two eggs lying in the middle of the tracks on the main Dublin-Rosslare line. The adult bird will incubate the eggs until just before a train comes, at which stage it hops out of the way and returns as soon as the train has passed! We'll certainly be keeping an eye on the progress of this nest and will report back soon.

In other bird news we've seen marsh harrier and red kite near the colony in recent days. There was another garganey seen near the colony on the first of June, but unfortunately none of the wardens got to see that. A small pod of Bottlenose Dolphin passed the colony during the week too, just another addition to the impressive list of mammals seen here at the colony.

I'll be back soon with more news!


One of the more bizzare nest locations here at Kilcoole...

Right in the middle of the tracks!

Ringed Plover chicks awaiting ringing

Some excellent artwork by colony volunteer Daire

The sunsets are to die for!

1 comment:

  1. Passed over the Oystercatcher twice on the train yesterday - hope they are doing okay. Darwin at work methinks. Noticed several Little Terns get up off the beach well south of the 2nd fenced-off area too. Good luck with the rest of the season.