A quick update from us about the breeding season so far. It's been a great year and many of you will have met Kathi and Cara who have been wardening the colony this year. They've been spending long hours sitting in the hide over the summer period and their hard work and dedication has been worth it! We've had a record season for Sandwich terns, little terns have had the most significant fledgling numbers for several years as well as numerous other birds being able to breed and raise young on the island at Hodbarrow. Our predator fencing which was put in place last year seems to really be working by keeping foxes and other mammalian predators away from the breeding birds.
4.3% of the UK population of Sandwich terns nested at Hodbarrow this year.
We had a peak of 1200 sandwich terns and from those had 535 pairs . The amazing thing is that half way through the season (around the 26th of June) there was a large influx of 200+ pairs which joined the colony. The story and the season isn't over yet and we are still waiting to see how the rest pans out as the new cohort of birds could still have chicks well into the middle of August. Could these extra birds have come from the Cemlyn colony in Wales who wrote on their Facebook page about losing birds to predation on the 17th of June? If they are those birds, it's only a short 170km distance from North Wales, not a big distance for a bird that can forage up to 54km away from the nest.
Picture of Sandwich Terns on the island from last year
So far we've had the best productivity for 26 years at Hodbarrow! Our numbers equate to a not insignificant 4.3% of the UK’S population.
Little Tern in Flight - Pic by C Redgate (Thanks Christine)
Little Terns have also had a great year with 33 nests and the best productivity for the site in over 10 years. This means that Little Terns had their first reasonable numbers of fledglings for a number of years which can only bolster the population in the coming seasons.
Common terns proved tricky to monitor as many nests sit at the back not visible from the hide but again they have had a great productivity.
The work to protect the terns has also attracted back 170 pairs of black headed gulls and 7 pairs of Eider, 5 broods of Tufted Duck- 6 pairs of Lapwing, 8 pairs of Oystercatcher and 3 pairs of Ringed Plover. They have really took advantage of the predator free area.
What a haul ......and we're not done yet. Hats off has to go to Kathi and Cara. It's not easy sitting in a hide for 6 hours and they've done a great job. If you see them when you are there say hi.
All in all not bad for 1.8 ha of iron ore slag in South Cumbria! Watch this space for more information and final numbers.