Friday, 26 July 2013

Tern chicks - we have some flying.

A young chicks using a blown over traffic cones as bit of shelter from the gulls.
 Even more exciting than puffins for some of those working on the island is the fledging of the tern chicks. The terns have perhaps one of the biggest struggles to breed successfully on the Isle of May as they choose to breed in amongst 11 000 hungry gulls, and with so many failed years in the past it is fantastic to see young terns flying around. The SNH team have put in days and days of work on the terns since they came back to the island in early May and flying chicks is what the success of the year is measured in. The way of monitoring the terns breeding success is to do a daily count of fledged chicks that gather in roosts close to or on the edge of the breeding colonies. The highest count is taken as the marker for the season. This year we are creeping up into the 40's which compared to the fact that we had over 400 nests is very poor but against complete failure of previous years is not too bad, at least there are new birds going into the population. Last year we had a highest count of 37 so we have certainly improved on that figure. we will continue to count and let you know the final figure.
 A chick that can fly.
 The wooden shelters are put down to be used by the chicks to hide from the predatory gulls.
A proud but worn out parent ! But there isn't much rest, in the next week or two the isle of may terns will start the long journey south to Antarctica to spend the winter feeding along the edge of the ice cap. Just the thought of that makes me tired.

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