Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Basking Sharks and Basking Lizards

We have found (drum roll) 200 nesting attempts by the Little Terns at Kilcoole this year, with 320 chicks ringed, and numerous fledglings scattered along the foreshore. The chicks are doing very well, and are becoming more independent (and therefore, elusive) by the day. Regular fledgling counts have begun, during which a warden estimates numbers of chicks from a distance using a telescope. Last Wednesday, Chris and Andrew were delighted to welcome visitors from the Garden Team at Sunbeam House. A fantastic day was enjoyed by all, and the group showed great interest and enthusiasm- so thank you so much for coming down guys!! We hope to see you again in seasons to come.

Some chicks and fledglings waiting to be ringed. Photo taken under NPWS licence by Andrew McManus.

The variations in habitat at the Kilcoole site support a wealth of biodiversity. Every day it's possible to come across a species you haven't seen yet in the season. This week, a Basking Shark was seen by Andrew. This is a fantastic spot, as Basking Sharks aren't often present on the east coast. Catching a glimpse of a Viviparous Lizard while strolling along the path is always great, as is watching Grey Seals snooze in the shallows.

A viviparous lizard sunbathing. Photo by I. Sullivan.

The basking shark video is available on the Birdwatch Ireland Wicklow Branch Facebook page:

Over the weekend, we were delighted to welcome a group of visitors made up of highly experienced ringers, birders, and wardens from previous years - a big thank you to Declan, Paddy, Susan and Brian for the fantastic ringing session, and the BBQ!

The colony is beginning to quieten down, as numbers of Little Terns are starting to dwindle and more chicks are taking to the foreshore. However, we do have a few recent hatchings, and around 22 nests are still active. Though these eggs and chicks will not be afforded the protection of mobs of adult terns over the coming weeks, we are hopeful for their success. Stay tuned for the next blog post, which will feature drawings and descriptions of the Little Terns progression from baby hatchling to monster fledgling!

"Are you talkin' to me? Are.. you TALKIN'.. to ME?," - a suspicious fledgling photographed before it was ringed. Photo taken under NPWS licence. (Andrew McManus).

Cobber, the resident Mute Swan by the caravans, with his family behind him. Photo taken by I. Sullivan.
With thanks as always for all the encouragement and support we receive from the public down at Kilcoole.

- Irene and the Kilcoole Team

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Living life on the Fledge

Over the past couple of days, the waves rolled in upon the shingle at Kilcoole and the wardens were temporarily banished to the hide by the bad weather. The fencing around the southern colony was knocked by some unforgiving tides, but this has been repaired and is now back to being a secure barrier against predators. The first round of chicks have mostly entered their tweens, and are speeding around the beach, doing their utmost to evade ring-clad wardens. However, the older chicks are growing up fast, and a few fledglings have been spotted!!
Our fancy shmancy new scales, modelled by a Little Tern chick from the southern colony. Photo taken under NPWS licence (I. Sullivan).

Many birds are still incubating eggs and nests continue to be discovered. More and more puffed-up parents can be witnessed with their wings enveloping chicks and protecting them from the elements. Two very successful ringing sessions were carried out over the past week. A grand total of 190 chicks have been blinged so far. We look forward to their return in seasons to come.
An adult bird seen through the scope, incubating chicks. Photo taken under NPWS licence. (I.Sullivan).

On Thursday 22nd June
, Andrew Butler, Andrew McManus and myself were delighted to welcome Ms. Webb’s sixth class from St. Patrick’s primary school, Greystones. You guys were brilliant! Some excellent questions were asked and great enthusiasm was shown by you all, despite the fact that the walk from Greystones was a strenuous 7km. Nevertheless, Bear Grylls like stamina and good banter fuelled a fun-filled afternoon. As part of the interactive visit, the class were shown a nest on shingle made up of unviable eggs, to illustrate how effective their camouflage is on the beach. We also discussed the breeding behaviour, feeding ecology and migration of the Little Terns. A special thanks must be given to sixth class at St. Patrick’s for naming one of the Little Tern chicks “Réaltóg". We’re optimistic it’ll have a future as bright as it’s name.
The Kilcoole team would like to remind visitors to the beach to please avoid the Breaches outlet, as there may be chicks and fledglings around the area. We greatly appreciate your consideration for the Little Terns and their wandering.
- Irene and The Kilcoole Team