Saturday, 28 May 2016

...And Then There Were Five...

(*Note: All of the pictures we take out here are taken under NPWS license)

Apologies for the lack of updates - needless to say once the Terns start to lay eggs things get really busy out here! Before we had our first Tern eggs last week we had our first Black Guillemot egg in one of the specially designed nestboxes we put out for them! Black Guillemots are usually the first species to lay eggs every year on Rockabill and around 40 pairs are on nests at the moment, so we're hopeful that number will keep increasing over the coming week or two!

The first Black Guillemot egg on Rockabill in 2016. There are now two eggs in this nestbox! (Picture taken under NPWS license)
The first Black Guillemot egg on Rockabill this year - much larger and more blue than our Tern eggs!  (Picture taken under NPWS license)
4C10 is the box we found the first egg in this year - pictured here with one of the occupiers!  (Picture taken under NPWS license)
A pair of Black Guillemots sticking their heads out from their nest hole.  (Picture taken under NPWS license)

Shortly after our first Tern eggs we had our first Kittiwake eggs on both of our islands, the Rock and the Bill. There's still only a few nests with eggs at the moment, with the adult Kittiwakes still taking advantage of low tide to gather more nest material!

The first Kittiwake egg on Rockabill in 2016, in 'Kitti-City'.  (Picture taken under NPWS license)

You might notice above i said Black Guillemots are usually the first species to lay eggs on Rockabill. Regular followers of the blog might remember we actually had a pair of Oystercatchers lay first last year (see blogpost here). We had a pair of Oystercatchers hanging around on the Bill, but of they did try and lay eggs we suspect the large Gulls may have had them for lunch! So for the second year running if I was to have put my money on what species would lay its eggs first on Rockabill I would have started the season a little bit poorer - because this year we have a pair of Blackbirds

We had noticed both a male and a female hanging around and were hoping they would attempt to breed here... and then one day David happened to see two Blackbird chicks! They were way ahead of us and had a nest in the hedge in our front garden! We gave them plenty of space after that to make sure we didn't disturb the chicks or the adults and to give them every chance of success. Over the last week or so the two chicks have gotten much braver and are hopping around from garden to garden. Thankfully the Terns settling down hasn't been a problem as they barely give them a passing glance (though the Blackbirds occasionally cause a bit of a panic when they quickly fly into a hedge or some Tree Mallow!). Apart from the regular five seabirds out on Rockabill there have been records of stuff like Wrens, Stock Doves and Swallows trying to breed, so we're delighted to add Blackbirds to that list and to wake up to a singing Blackbird amongst thousands of squabbling Terns! They're a bird I'm sure many people tend to take for granted, but out here they're pretty special!

The moment we realised we had some unsuspected nesters on Rockabill this year! (DKS - Picture taken under NPWS license)

One of the fledgling Blackbirds on Rockabill this year. 
Rockabill's two fledgling Blackbirds.

We've also had a male and female Pied Wagtail seen on a regular basis on Rockabill, though we've seen much less of them in the last week or so... could they be on a nest somewhere too? Fingers crossed!

One of the two Pied Wagtails seen intermittently on Rockabill over recent weeks... fingers crossed we find a nest in the not too distant future! 


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