Sunday, 4 May 2014

4th of May: Looking out for Little Terns

As partners in a Little Tern LIFE project, we have a large focus on protecting and learning more about these most delightful and delicate of seabirds.
Little Tern over the Point (Joe Cockram, 2010)

Little Terns have been synonymous with Blakeney for over a century. In 1901, the Blakeney and Cley Wild Bird Protection Society appointed a Watcher to look after the breeding terns on Blakeney Point, then just Common and Little. In the early days of the twentieth century, there were typically 10 to 40 pairs of Little Terns nesting each summer.
Bob Pinchen, Watcher 1901-1930

Today, typically over 100 pairs breed here, but with mixed fledging success. This year, with the help of volunteers and students, we are increasing our observation and protection. The colonies have been fenced off for protection, please give all fencelines a wide berth to avoid disturbing incubating birds. Little Terns are a Schedule 1 protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, meaning it is an offence to cause disturbance to them.
The 2014 Blakeney Point Little Tern team

This weekend the first Sandwich Tern eggs were laid, two weeks after the first Black-headed Gulls. We expect to find the first Oystercatcher eggs any day.
One of this year's first Sandwich Tern eggs

Unfortunately, this weekend was not without its disturbance events. Low-flying para-motors are becoming an increasing problem. These two flew over the colony, disturbing the Sandwich Terns at 18.00 on Saturday.
At 14.20, an orange one flew dangerously low over the seals hauled out on the West Sands, scaring them all into the water. We urge para-motor users to obey the law and not to fly low over important protected wildlife sites. If you have any information on Saturday's events, please do get in touch.

The birding highlight of this weekend was a group of nine Common Cranes, that flew west over Blakeney Harbour on Saturday morning.

This morning's annual Shelduck count, revealed 68 breeding pairs on the Point.
Shelduck at Blakeney (Gary K. Smith)

In invertebrate news, the first Cinnabar and Yellow Belle moths have been seen this week. These moths can be seen during the daytime amongst the dunes.

And finally, here is another "guess the legs" challenge...
(Answer to be revealed in our next blog post)

- Ajay (Coastal Ranger)

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