Monday, 2 July 2018

Tern Chicks Galore and Flooded Shore

Since the last post it's been all go at Kilcoole. Not long after the last update we lost nearly 50 nests to a high spring tide. This was a major set back, wiping out many three-egg clutches. What could have been a disaster has proven not to be so, as good weather has allowed the terns to re-lay en masse.
    The wardens have been extremely busy lately conducting nest checks and monitoring/ringing chicks. Last week 59 chicks were given unique alpha-numeric plastic rings. These green 'colour-rings' were first placed on chicks here back in 2014. They are unique in allowing wardens to identify individual birds by reading the combination on the ring through a telescope.
    The heat-wave that has swept the country over the past few weeks has hit Kilcoole too, and while never getting too hot due to the cooling sea-breeze it has been hot enough to become a risk for the chicks; the air temperature could be 17 degrees but the temperature at chick height on the shingle would be far hotter. In an attempt to aid chicks struggling with heat exposure we have once again started placing chick-shelters on the beach. These consist of roof tiles, and chicks can use these to shelter from wind, rain, sun and predators.
    Speaking of predators we've been having serious problems with a local pair of kestrels lately. These brazen birds of prey have taken ten chicks already and show no signs of slowing down. It's a difficult situation for us, knowing that this is a part of nature and that the kestrels are feeding young of their own. Our current and only method of defence is trying to deter the birds, via shouting and banging pans together. This is having limited success. Will update on proceedings here soon. 
    There is some good news though. We had our first little tern chick fledge yesterday, and there's now another three or four fledged with it. In addition to this i'm pleased to report that the Oystercatcher nest between the train tracks has successfully hatched, and these two fluffy chicks can be seen hanging around the lagoon with their diligent father.
    The last week also had us saying farewell to Sally, our relief warden. Sally spent two months here and was a huge asset to the team. She's now off pursuing seabirds on the R.V Celtic Explorer, and we wish her well(and lots of whales and rare seabirds).

Thanks for reading, keep an eye on the blog for updates soon.

One last note: Walkers on the beach familiar with this blog will already be aware that we ask that dogs be kept on leads at all times, and many people do just that. However there are those who disregard this plea, and as a result of this a three week old chick is now dead. We ask you to spread the word that dogs really do need to be kept on leads in this area. Thanks

Adult tern with young chick
Chunky Chick

Tiny Chick

Chicks are experts at hiding. Can you see it?

Chick shelter in use


Ringed Plover- What a difference three weeks makes!

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