Tuesday, 25 June 2013

26th of June: The challenges of being a tern

If the arrival of the first Sandwich Terns signals the start of spring on Blakeney Point, then summer is definitely here when they are feeding chicks.

Terns face many challenges and successfully feeding their young is one of them. Nearby gulls often try to steal fish from the terns when they fly into the colony. This is called kleptoparisitism, Niki Lowndes studied this on the Point last year, and we currently have Rene Beijersbergen, from the Netherlands, observing Sandwich and Little Tern feeding behaviour on the Point as part of a European scale research project.

In this photograph some Sandwich Terns can be seen with sand eels in their bills.

Another challenge ground-nesting birds face here is the sea. There have been some particularly high tides over the past two days and these have sadly washed a few Little Tern nests away. Luckily less than 10% of nests have been lost and chicks were seen in the colony today. These big tides have also pushed seals closer to the terns.

Blakeney Point looked splendid today in the sunshine. Thousands of Cat's-ears are in flower on the dunes...

Another sign of summer is the Yellow Horned-poppy, an iconic plant on Blakeney Point, which is coming into flower. One of the first we spotted in flower was this one near the solar panels.
A study on the Point by E. J. Salisbury found that a single Yellow Horned-poppy plant may produce upto 60,000 seeds.

The yellow flowers of Tree Lupins are also out around the Lifeboat House. These were introduced many years ago. They are a good nectar source for insects such as bees.

Our latest trail camera footage captures a Meadow Pipit and a Reed Bunting bathing.

The work of a Ranger on Blakeney Point is certainly varied. You never know what is going to happen next. On Sunday we were involved in the rescue of a small sailing boat struggling in windy conditions. On Friday we had the pleasure of unblocking a sewage pipe! On a more pleasant note, getting up at dawn means that we see some wonderful sunrises...
(Photos by Ajay Tegala, except terns and seal by Matt Twydell)
- Ajay

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