Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Sandwich Tern Colony 02/06/2015

This morning Ken and I headed to the Inch Wild Fowl Reserve in Inishowen, County Donegal to ring Sandwich Tern chicks.  Ken has been studying the colony for 20+ years and it has produced some great results (I'll update the SANTE info at some point soon), including some very nice controls/recoveries.  We met up with 2 staff members from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (Ireland) who manage the site and another of Kens trainees who lives locally.



We were a little worried for the health of the chicks following continuous wet and windy weather and what was the worst June storm (possibly) on record the day previous.  We arrived in fine conditions but it was obvious the water levels were high and going to impact the colony on the island. 
Once we sailed over to the colony we could immediately see that a number of nests had been flooded including the nests of all the Common Terns, some Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Mute Swans, with eggs floating in the water.  The Sandwich Terns concentrate their nests on the slightly higher, less vegetated area of the island, so seemed to be unscathed.


 

  Ken had visited the site on the 22nd of May to count the Sandwich Tern chicks/eggs and managed a total of 488.  We found quite a few dead chicks that had succumb to the bad weather but we still managed to ring 161 chicks.  There was also a number of freshly hatched chicks that we did not ring, a few unhealthy chicks and lots of eggs yet to hatch, perhaps another 250.  It is still early in season, so hopefully the Common Terns will make another attempt.

Sandwich Tern chick

As well as the terns, there are hundreds of Black-headed Gulls nesting on the island, although these are not studied.  We did ring a few of the larger chicks to give the trainees some experience with the species. 

Black-headed Gull chick
 
Black-headed Gull nest



John and Ken had a short ringing session at the University ringing site on Saturday 30th of May.  They caught 8 new birds including the first fledged passerine of the year in the form of a Robin.  Other species caught included Blackbird and Blackcap.

John also visited a few of his next boxes at the Gateside Road and ringed some Great Tit and Swallow pullus.  The Blue Tits and Tree Sparrows are only freshly hatched, so should be ready to ring in a week or so.   

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