4 July 2013

That didn't tern out as expected!!

Last night Colin and Stan from the ringing group came over so we could pay a visit to the Arctic Tern colony not far from my house.

There have been in the region of 80 Arctic Terns on the site for the last month. Recent sightings of food being taking in to the colony along with some birds coming over to the nearby track whenever anyone walked along it and swooping down on them were good indicators that breeding was in progress. It is fairly normal here for chicks to be present at the end of June/start of July so it was a good time to take a look.

We set off to the colony and were accompanied by my Uncle, Paul, who is staying with us at the moment.

As we approached the colony the terns took to the air and it wasn't long before we found some bits of eggshells.

Paul found the first chick of the evening but it wasn't a tern. Nestled into the heather was an Oystercatcher chick.

Oystercatcher, the first chick of the evening being ringed
As we worked our way through the colony it quickly became apparent that we were too early as all we were finding were nests with one or two eggs on them.

Arctic Tern nest
When we got to the far end of the colony the second chick of the evening was found by Stan, this time it was a Common Gull .

Common Gull, the second chick to be ringed
It was decided to leave the colony for another week by which time there should be some chicks.

Next we went down to an old wartime building where there was a Swallow nest with four chicks which were now ready for ringing.

Swallow chick
As we wandered around the site we discovered a Blackbird nest with three eggs on it, so I'll be keeping an eye on that with a view to ringing the chicks when they are old enough.

So some more chicks ringed but not the ones we were hoping for.

Thanks to Paul for the photographs.


  1. Hi, we went back to the colony the following week and there were fewer nests with eggs and no sign of any tern chicks. Not good news at all. It sounds like most of the tern colonies here have failed this year.

    All we found were two Oystercatcher chicks, one was ringed on the previous visit and the other was ringed on this visit.

  2. Thanks Dave. That is sad news indeed. See you in August.