Tuesday 16 June 2020

Sandwich Tern Colour Ringing Donegal 2020

In June 2019 we began our Sandwich Tern colour ringing project with the first cohort of 30 ringed. In the first autumn (2019) we got six recoveries of five birds:
Three travelled the Ayrshire coast of Scotland (one bird was recorded at two sites)
One travelled to Rhos Point, Conwy, Wales
One travelled to County Wexford

As Sandwich Terns do not reach sexual maturity until 3-4 years old, we don't expect to see the first returning birds back until 2022 but it will be interesting if any non-breeding birds return sooner.

Sandwich Tern 569 ringed on 15th June 2020

The plan for this year (2020) was to really focus on colour ringing only and not place any focus on metal ringing birds. To avoid excess disturbance on the islet which supports a few thousand breeding birds (Sandwich Tern, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Mallard) we are limited to an hours visit to land and depart. Unfortunately, as everywhere, the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered plans with tight lockdown restrictions meaning travel to Donegal and bird ringing was not permissible until June. The visit took place on June 15th but with social distancing measures in place, only two people were present, myself and Martin the NPWS Ranger. With very low water levels in the lagoon we had a new mode of transport with two paddleboards which worked really well. 39 well developed chicks were ringed 531-570 which now means we have 69 Sandwich Terns bearing colour rings.

We are very keen for your sightings so if you see any of our birds, please send the sightings to Richard.Donaghey89(at)gmail.com


All the colour ringed Sandwich Terns are marked at the Inch Island Wildfowl Reserve on a small islet in the centre of the man-made lagoon. The site is owned and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service who enable access to the islet and we are thankful for their purchase of the BTO metal rings and colour rings.

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