Thursday, April 3, 2008
Group set up to protect nesting little tern seabirds on Louth coast
A NEW conservation group has been formed in Co Louth and its first major project begins this month. It aims to protect nesting little terns, which are Ireland's rarest breeding seabirds.
They spend winter along the coast of west Africa and return to Ireland in April until September.
They nest directly on beaches, which leaves their chicks and eggs vulnerable to destruction from dogs, walkers and natural predators, including crows, who can steal the eggs.
With the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Birdwatch Ireland, the new group, Louth Nature Trust Ltd, is embarking on the little tern conservation project on Baltray beach at the northern mouth of the Boyne river.
Group chairwoman Sandra McKeever said: "With a species in decline, we have a real opportunity to protect these birds. The little terns will nest again in Baltray from May through to August. Our volunteers will be on hand, monitoring the beach during the daylight hours of the three-month breeding season so as the little tern eggs and young are given their best chance of survival."
Ms McKeever oversaw the project last year, when "we were delighted by the hatching and survival of 41 chicks, which we hope to see return in the future from Africa, where they spend the winter". The group is seeking volunteers to help it monitor the beach from dawn until dusk over the summer months to ensure as many fledglings as possible.
The group has identified what it says are 40 "high-quality conservation sites" in Louth.
The group can be contacted at www.louthnaturetrust.org© 2008 The Irish Times