Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Keeping up with the terns

It is difficult to know what to keep you up to date with at the moment as so much is happening but here is a tern update. Over the last 2 years the island terns have been having a hard time with fewer pairs returning to breed and those that do being under continuous pressure from gull predation.  So this year we have tried a couple of things to try to help them breed successfully.
Early in the season in often atrocious weather volunteers helped us build some nesting platforms that would provide terns with their favoured substrate to nest on but also offer vegetation cover for  the chicks to hide in from the gulls.

Tern nesting platforms with beautifully camoflaged eggs

The second was borrowed from the Farnes isles and is to use 6ft garden canes stuck in the ground to make it more difficult for the gulls to land and take eggs and chicks, a bit like barrage balloons in the second world war.

And the results ?
Well we still have terns, nearly 300 pauirs in total and there are lots of chicks hatching out all over the place. Down at Kirkhaven the colony there is vigorously defending itself as the visitors that land have found out. We have had a few bleeders, especially those photographers that  linger in the colony for an extra photograph despite being asked not to.  The small, satellite colony at` the Chapel seems to have suffered the most so far from gull attacks so far and has reduced in size. Up at the Beacon where the biggest number is, quite a few of the nesting platforms have been adopted, one platform by 2 pairs, one is each opposing corner. The gulls have had a go and quite a few nests have gone from around the edges but the core of the colony that is protected by canes is still there. So it is only another 4 weeks or so for the parents to keep defending their nests and then the young will have fledged.  Paula and Lucie are both putting in hours of work on the terns and if we do many to get chicks fledged then I think that we will all be as pleased as if they were our own. 
A bigger chick on walk about. The funny wooden things are shelters for the chicks to go under to avoid the gulls.

A just hatched tern chick

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