Saturday, 7 June 2014

Uncommon Tern Nesting Places!

So as we've mentioned in some recent posts, there are currently eggs EVERYWHERE on Rockabill! We've been doing twice-daily counts of our 9 study areas and are seeing increases every day in the numbers of Roseate and Common Terns in each one of them.

Now Roseate Terns like to nest in shelter, so their nests are confined to either nestboxes or in a bunch of vegetation or under a shrub of some sort (usually Tree Mallow). That's what it says in the books and our Roseates have obviously read the same books - if you look around the island they have nests exactly where you'd expect them to!

Roseate Tern eggs laid under shelter (Pictures taken under NPWS license)

Common Terns on the other hand are much less fussy. Basically, find the right island/lake/shore and they'll be absolutely everywhere there! If there's a bit of sand or mud they can scrape a little hole into they'll happily settle there - if there isn't, well they'll probably settle there anyway! Here's some of the more unusual place we've also found their eggs so far......

There's one nesting in some debris in a dried-up drain.....
Common Tern nest in a dried-up drain! (Picture taken under NPWS license)

There's a nest at the base of these steps....

....and at least 5 seperate clutches around these steps!

This looks like a fairly natural nest......
(Picture taken under NPWS license)

........until you zoom out and realise it's on an old moss-covered floor mat!
(Picture taken under NPWS license)

Firepoint - the location of emergency fire equipment...and two clutches of 3 Common Tern eggs!

A clutch of 3 Common Tern eggs, either side of our firepoint sign! (Picture taken under NPWS license)

And the 10+ foot high wall behind Firepoint? That has clutches on top of it too!

One of several Common Tern nests on top of a very high wall! (Picture taken under NPWS license)

They're big fans of renewable energy too, nesting in behind these solar panels:

Common Tern nest around the back of the solar panels. (Picture taken under NPWS license)

They're not too worried about getting in our way either! Here's one quite literally just outside one of our hides - and it's not the only one!
Common Tern nest, picture taken from inside our hide to show just how close it is! (Picture taken under NPWS license)


And lastly, we had worried that the wording of this sign might lead to some confusion on the birds behalf, but apparently not:

Roseate Tern egg behind the sign (Picture taken under NPWS license)

So when we say they're nesting everywhere, we mean EVERYWHERE! Any patch of bare ground, behind plants on sloping rocks, between cracks in rocks, on the paths, on ledges and walls - everywhere! Going by last years numbers there should be around 2,000 pairs of Common terns nesting on Rockabill, so you can imagine how careful we have to be when walking around!

We hope to do a full census of the island this week so I'm sure we'll find more nests in unexpected places - we'll keep you updated!

Until then!

- Brian & Donnacha

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