Thursday, 27 June 2013

Terns, chicks and plastic bottles.

The terns are doing really well this year, at the moment even better than last year. There are strong colonies up at the Beacon and especially down at Kirkhaven where they are giving all visitors arriving a really good going over.

And now chicks are popping out left right and centre. This little chap (below) is doing what all good tern chicks do right from when they hatch - when they hear their parents alarm calls they look for cover and freeze. This one just needs to find bigger stones to hide next to.
The recent high spring tides have given us a challenge or two. Five pairs of terns had decided to nest on the top of the sand  at Kirkhaven beach which goes under water in the big spring tides. So we set about moving the nests higher up the beach by lifting the eggs, building the nest in the bottom of a large plastic bottle, putting the eggs back into the nest and setting it down into the sand again. Then over the period of a few days we moved the nests in their plastic bottle base up the beach about 1 foot a day until it was safely out of the tides reach. One nest got flooded out by a heavy downpour but all the others were successfully moved and are now starting to hatch. You can just see the plastic containers with a chick and egg, and an egg below.

This egg was photographed this morning just starting to hatch, you can see the small hole first punched through by the chick.

The chicks can vary in base colour from a sandy brown (above) to a greenish grey (below) - all part of their strategy to stay hidden from predatory gulls.

We still have a way to go but to have such a strong tern colony and so many chick is really exciting as in past years the terns have done so badly.

No comments:

Post a Comment