Thursday, 12 May 2016

Rock on, 2016!

It's that time of year again! The sun is shining (in between showers...), Swallows are flying in and out of sheds, Warblers of various species can be heard from every hedgerow, and the familiar call of the Cuckoo can be heard across the countryside. If you're on the coast there's a good chance you've seen and heard our various Tern species as they too arrived back from Africa. With their arrival comes the beginning of Birdwatch Ireland's breeding seabird conservation programmes for this year and once again two wardens have been left (abandoned?!) on Rockabill Island, 6km off the coast of north County Dublin, to look after the largest colony of Roseate Terns in Europe!
Rockabill Island, Dublin - an internationally important site for breeding seabirds (BB)

We arrived out on Rockabill at the end of April this year, around two weeks earlier than usual. We departed Skerries harbour on a windy Monday evening and took around 25 minutes to reach Rockabill... before realising that the winds and swell meant landing wasn't possible, and turning back to the mainland... you can imagine our disappointment! We departed again on a breezy but altogether improved Wednesday afternoon, this time from Loughshinny, and will be here for the next three months to protect and monitor breeding Roseate, Common and Arctic Terns, Black Guillemots and Kittiwakes - around 4,000 pairs of seabirds in total!

Spot the boat! En route to Rockabill on a windy day.. (Michael Burke)

Rockabill wardens ready to depart (the first time!) (Michael Burke)

Three months of food and supplies for two people... we hope... (BB)

Our early start this year has been facilitated by the beginning of an EU LIFE-funded project to enhance the habitat for Roseate Terns in Ireland and the UK. We'll tell you more about that later! We'll also have a few blog posts in the coming days to get you up to speed on what's happened on Rockabill since we arrived. In the meantime we hope you're enjoying having all of your summer migrants back, and if you're close to the sea (or some of our big lakes) keep an eye out for Terns! We've been reliably informed that the Little Terns are back in Kilcoole and the Common and Arctic Terns are back in Dublin Port.

As ever we'd like to thank Eoin from Skerries Seatours for getting us out safe and sound, as he always does! If you want to get a close look at Rockabill Island over the summer then contact him via the Skerries Seatours Website. We'd also like to thank the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Commission of Irish Lights for facilitating our work out here every year.  

The  Skerries Seatours boat 'Fionn Mac Cumhaill' that brought us out to Rockabill this year. (BB)

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