So another week has gone by and we are still waiting for our little terns to come back and nest. Much thought is now going in to asking the question, why haven’t they turned up yet? One idea is that continuous strong easterly winds over the migration route could possibly have blown them off course, causing them to turn up later than usual. Maybe something happened in their wintering grounds that we don’t know about. Reports from the UK and France also mention that there have been few little terns arriving to nest so far and unfortunately a lot that nested in England have been washed out due to the bad weather conditions. Another theory is that maybe there is not much fish to feed on, a theory which has been backed up by a few local bass and trout fishermen, who claim that the sandeel numbers are low this year, or that the sprat haven’t come in close to the coast yet. Although the lack of food is a possibility as to why the terns haven’t turned up yet, this theory has its own problems with the little terns that have shown up hunting and coming up with large sandeels and the odd sprat. On top of this, gannets and sandwich terns have been seen diving off the coast in a flurry of activity last Thursday the 2nd June and again on Saturday the 4th.
The lack of little terns has not gone unnoticed as Terry Flanagan from RTE’s “Mooney Goes Wild” came out to chat to us about. The conversation will be aired at 10 PM next Sunday 12th June on RTE Radio 1.
Over the course of the week we’ve consistently had three pairs turning up at high tide, flying between the nesting grounds and the colony, hunting in the shallows of the high tide and we even had two pairs land and begin to build scrapes before being aggressively chased off by nesting ringed plovers. The plovers nesting season is in full swing and they have become quite aggressive to other birds landing near their nests including dunlin, sanderling and little terns.
A pair of little terns was observed mating and we hope to have our first nest of the season soon. I will continue to keep you all updated as the season progresses.
Kevin 5th June 2016