Best year for a long time for tern chicks

IMG_1463 Well it is all mayhem in the tern colony at the moment. The count today came up with the highest number of tern chicks that have fledged for many years – Becky and Bex counted over 200 of them.

Though they can fly these hungry chicks spend most of their time sitting around the rocks of Kirkhaven and the jetties either sunbathing or yelling at their parents for more fish.
IMG_1456 IMG_1430 IMG_1414It is great fun watching them as they sit in a doze until in all the bedlam they suddenly recognise their parents flying in with a fish and suddenly they are all animated begging with open beaks for their stomachs to be filled. There are lots of arguments as other chicks try to barge in and steal a fish.  IMG_1428The noise and excitement in the colony is tremendous and at a guess it might be that some will head out from the island to sea and start their mammoth journey south soon. IMG_1455And why have the terns breed so successfully this year? Well it seems that there are a number of reasons. Partially it could be that with the rabbit numbers being low the vegetation is high so hides the chicks from the gulls. Also there seems to have been a lot of food about both for the gulls and the terns making it easier to grow chicks to fledging age.  But part of the reason is the hard work of the SNH NNR team in putting out cans, making chick shelters and making and putting out home made bunting, all to deter predatory gulls and reduce the numbers of chicks being eaten. But now there is little more that we can do, the terns are on their own and we can just hope that a good number make it back in 2 years time to boost the breeding numbers on the May. IMG_1422

IMG_1471P1120165In case you had forgotten this is what the chicks look like only 3 weeks ago.

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