Last week was a great example of international working with Daniel Piec and Chantal Macleod-Nolan, who are overseeing and coordinating the LIFE project on behalf of the RSPB, crossing the Irish Sea and visiting the project sites.
Our first stop was Larne Lough in Northern Ireland where we were welcomed and met the warden and RSPB staff who are monitoring the area. Our resulting discussion was very insightful and along with actually seeing the site gave us with a much clearer understanding of how the site works and the breeding terns are doing this year. Throughout the visit we had some lovely sightings of fledgling Sandwich terns, common terns, black-headed gulls and black guillemots. Unfortunately with only one pair breeding at Larne Lough last year, roseate terns in Northern Ireland are facing extinction - making the support and funding the recovery project provides very important!
This year they had hatched 85 nests with 154 chicks, however the wardens have observed fox predation and poor food availability. The season is not over yet though and the site is currently still active (good numbers of little terns were flying about when we were there!). If you are interested in reading more about it, check out their blog: http://littleternconservation.blogspot.co.uk/
It was also nice to hear about how Tuesday's Dalkey Tern Watch have been going - great 'tern' out if you can pardon the pun!
We were joined on this trip by wardens and staff from a number of Tern colonies in Northern Ireland and Wales (RSPB & NWWT) and were shown around by Rockabill warden Brian Burke (BirdWatch Ireland): http://rockabillterns.blogspot.co.uk/.
In addition earlier in the week Rockabill Island also hosted the RSPB wardens from Coquet Island, England as well.
With added funding from the project, the wardens were able to start slightly earlier and prepare for the season controlling the vegetation and providing terns with more nesting opportunities! Currently the wardens are busy monitoring the nesting terns, observing predation and undertaking provisioning studies.
I would like to thank all the wardens and staff who took the time to show us around their sites. Not only was it a fantastic opportunity to observe breeding roseate terns and their interactions, but all of these site visits and informal discussions are incredibly important with each site having their own intricacies and management approaches regarding their different breeding species, disturbance and predators. Exchanging knowledge and experiences potentially offer new solutions and allow us to return to our own sites/offices with renewed eagerness to continue protecting these rare birds!!!