Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Nice Sandwich

Sandwich Tern colony count on Inner Farne

A bold step: Sandwich Tern meets senior warden Davy Still

Watch your step, eggs galore!

Tuesday 2nd June Comments:
Another big day – although every day is a big day out here at the moment. The team were up at 06:00 for 'round two' of the cliff counts – counting the nesting birds on the cliff ledges, with eight counts to go. Everything went smoothly, the weather was perfect once again and the sea state was like glass (a technical term for a very flat sea!). Once that was complete, we had time for a short break before venturing to Seahouses in a quick dash before we set ourselves up for the big event – the Sandwich Tern colony count. Whilst this was going on, the Brownsman team were dealing with visitors (Staple Island opens from 10-13:30 – so plenty to keep us going).
Sandwich Terns nest colonially, and in only one spot on the entire Farne Islands archipelago – on Inner Farne on ‘top meadow’. The colony has being increasing over the last few weeks, so it was time to count the number of nesting pairs. This involves setting rope transect lines one metre apart and walking each line, counting every nest (which represents a pair of birds). The team continue that until the entire colony is counted and then it’s a job well done. Without doubt its one of the most stressful jobs as hundreds of eggs are scattered in such a small area (so you have to concentrate on where you put your feet), but the reward is great as the population is counted and something not everyone gets a chance to do! Thankfully everything went smoothly and we were finished, ready for Inner Farne to be open to the public by 13:30.
As for the count? Well, we’ll have a few more to add next week (the late nesters) but at present, we counted 1,256 pairs – slightly down on last season (1,358 nested last year), but I suspect we’ll be over that total once more have settled. We also found a few hatching, so Sandwich Tern chicks as well!! The afternoon was hectic, with more visitors (the fine weather is bringing out lots of people at this moment) and as the last boat departed at 5pm, the team had had another long day and a well deserved cup of tea.
Highlights: Still few and far between with Roseate Tern 3 adults on Inner Farne mid-afternoon – still no sign of breeding, Starling 4 and thats about it!
Breeding Birds: Sandwich Terns now have chicks, whilst Arctic Tern numbers have increased again including over 31 pairs in the lighthouse cottage grounds on Inner Farne (a new nesting area). Elsewhere all three Auk species (Puffin, Razorbill and Guillemot) have chicks hatching in ever-increasing numbers and Shag chicks are becoming larger by the day. Pied Wagtail young are now becoming independent and the parents are already on six eggs (second brood) in the next box by the lighthouse and Wren young are almost ready to fledge.

1 comment:

Jan said...

One sandwich short of a picnic, that's you lot ;)

Don't worry if you can't blog very often, it must be hectic and exhausting work out there. Just happy to hear/read and see your great photos.