On the wing – first tern chicks have fledged

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It seemed only days ago that all the chicks looked like this.

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And now they look like this.

We have some tern chicks fledging. After all the work that the team has put in over the season we are very excited to have got to the stage in the tern breeding season where chicks are starting to take to the wing. At the moment it is mayhem in the tern colony down at Kirkhaven as parents are flying the food shuttle, constantly flying back and forth from the sea to the colony brings one fish at a time to feed their demanding youngsters. Sometimes the parents are in such a rush they don’t even touch down but drop the fish into an open mouth while hovering in mid air. The fish supply seems to be good this year so the chicks are growing at a rapid rate of knots. And now their are chicks doing wing exercises and the biggest are doing circuits and bumps as they get the hang over using their huge wings. The parents are still feeding them and will do for several more days. The next stage is that they move out of the colony into the communal roost on the Kirkhaven rocks before eventually heading off the island.

They can still be prey to the gulls when on the wing but once able to fly we feel less responsible for them and they are on their own.

Seeing these chicks fly gives us huge satisfaction  but there is still a little way to go before the colony has finished for the season and we can count up what the peak fledge chick count is and assess how successful a year it has been.

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