Wardening of the little tern nesting area at Baltray Bay began on the 24th May.  We have had a very slow start to the breeding season here, with 18 terns observed in the area on one day being the highest count. Unfortunately we are still waiting our first nest but we have seen some scrape building as well as some flight and feeding displays with sand-eels. A rook landed in the nesting area and was instantly mobbed by 5 little terns. While we wait on the little terns to begin nesting we have plenty of ringed plovers to keep us busy!

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Shane keeping careful watch over the nesting area

So far we have found multiple ringed plover scrapes, however most of these are empty. Two nests were found with eggs, with two and three eggs respectively. Unfortunately both of these nests were predated by corvids. Rooks and hooded crows are the main predators for little tern and ringed plover eggs in this area. Although there was a cull of the rooks earlier in the year, these intelligent birds still have good numbers in the area, with up to 60 being chased from the nesting area by the wardens. Other potential predators in the area are foxes and rats, both of whose tracks were found within the nesting area.

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A ringed plover foraging for insects

 

A predated ringed plover egg

A predated ringed plover egg

Vigilant watches and anti-predator patrols are ongoing from 6 AM until 10 PM, along with nest counting and bird observations. Hopefully the little terns will come in to nest soon and my next post shall be full of information about what they are getting up to!

Waders, such as dunlin and sanderling, foraging at high tide

Waders, such as dunlin and sanderling, foraging at high tide

The area around the shingle beach is a haven for wildlife however and we are never short of some incredible sightings. Some of the highlights so far that we have seen are a short eared owl hunting over the dunes, a male kestrel flying low over the dunes searching for unsuspecting prey, a whole family of shelduck waddling down the beach, the adult pair and 6 ducklings and a sparrowhawk getting mobbed by some meadow pipits.

Bombus hortorum

Bombus hortorum

The grounds around us are buzzing with summer life as numerous bee’s collect nectar including Bombus lucorum aggregate, Bombus hortorum, Bombus lapidaries and the common carder bee, Bombus pascuorum, along with common blue butterflies, small white butterflies and cinnibar moths to name but a few.

Anyone interested in coming down to help out with anti-predator patrols, nest spotting and even just to get back out into nature for a short while, please come on down to us. We can use all the help we can get, particularly when the little terns begin to nest!

Kevin 1st June 2016