Thursday 16 July 2015

Common Terns - Inch Island 14/07/2015

Ken made a second ringing visit to Inch Island Wild Fowl Reserve on the 26th of June to ring the hatchlings from the c300 remaining Sandwich Tern eggs noted on the previous visit.  The result was very poor with few birds present and no clear reason to why.  They did however discover that the Common Terns had nested again after the flood and counted 130 eggs.

On the 14th, Ken and I headed up to Inch and met up with Andrew and Martin from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to ring the chicks.  After launching the boat we discovered that the throttle on the outboard engine was stuck on full.  With a bit of manoeuvring with the oars, we were able to start the engine in the open water and point it towards the islet!

Common Tern chick
The result was again disappointing, with only 31 Common Tern chicks present from the 130 eggs.  We found around a dozen cold eggs, so the rest of the eggs/chicks have probably been predated.  The Common Terns nest at the edge of the islet close to the waters edge, so they are probably a little more vulnerable to large gulls or perhaps even a mammalian predator, although there were no obvious signs.

Juvenile Black-headed Gull

  There were still lots of Black-headed Gulls present at various stages, from fresh hatchlings to birds in flight.  We managed to catch eight well developed birds, with three flying away on release.  Tufted Ducks breed on the islet in sizeable numbers.  Without looking for them, I came across around 15 nests with a mixture of chicks and eggs, and there are probably at least double that number.  There were also quite a few chicks that had left their nests already, which were surprisingly quick, darting through the grasses.  

Tufted Duck chick
This was the final visit to the breeding colony this year but hopefully the birds start cropping up at interesting locations and someone can read their rings.  I will eventually give an update on the findings and results from Ken's study from the past 25/30 years which includes a Pacific Ocean recovery!

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