11 Jul 2016

Terns & Gulls

I had a busy day recently! I got invited to go and help ring Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls at a colony in N Wales but also got a message from Steve saying the planned trip to the Skerries to ring Arctic Tern chicks was going to be the same day albeit later!

Common Terns were a new species for me and I met up with the team including Hilbre regulars Alan H & Kenny Mac around 09.00. It was nice to catch up with Nicola again who I'd last met ringing Jackdaws at her site in N Wales a few weeks previously.

The colonies were located on specially made tern rafts and the first one meant a short wade in wellies whilst the second one required a bit of rowing.

A great trip and it was nice to meet up with a few names I'd heard of but not actually met. Both species seemed to be doing well although there had been quite a bit of chick mortality reported earlier in the season. As is usual in any colony there were nests at different stages of development. The older Black-headed Gull chicks were almost fledged and the ages ranged from small youngsters, eggs just hatching and eggs still in the nest.

The noise from the colony was deafening but at least the Common Terns don't attack with the ferocity Arctic Terns do.

After a quick lunch it was time to head over to Bangor and meet up with Rachel & Steve for the drive to Holyhead harbour where we picked our boat out to the Skerries.

The Common Tern and Black-headed Gull colony was noisy enough but Arctic Terns are deafening!

As quickly as possible we worked through the colony eventually ringing 399 chicks before we ran out of time. We only had a couple of hours on the island before the boat had to leave again.

A great days ringing and a privilege to be able to spend time with the terns. The boat trip back to Holyhead was made even more enjoyable by the evening passage of Manx Shearwaters that accompanied us

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