Sorry about the tern heavy blogging recently - we've had such a good year that it's hard not to shout about.
(Arctic Tern Photo MCM)
Our tern numbers have rocketed this year (we're taking each year as it comes but we're a little chuffed with this one!). Due to the increased numbers and a more robust colony we've even managed to get onto the island and get some ringing done. Why you might ask? A lot of what we know about terns comes from their direct breeding grounds where every inch of their life for three months of the year is recorded and analysed. This can be anything from when they first arrived, how many chicks they have, what they had for breakfast....etc. This data helps us to understand why we have good years and bad years which in turn is used to help manage the site to allow the best outcomes during this period of time. This is all for that brief part of the year that they inhabit a particular area. Ringing and in particular colour rings allow our understanding of these birds grow. With the help of re- sightings (which anyone with a telescope can do) we can map their migrations, wintering grounds and movements. This fills in the blanks for the rest of the year and gives a clearer picture of their life cycle.
At Hodbarrow we managed to ring little and sandwich terns with colour and metal rings. We had our first re-sighiting which is particularly exciting. One of our juvenile sandwich terns fledged this year has made its way south to Ainsdale beach (67 km as the crow flies), Merseyside and was seen on 10 August. Another bird has been noted in a high tide roost in Colwyn Bay (103 km). It’s an exciting start to see the route of their onwards migration and highlights the importance of post breeding habitats. Hopefully this is just the start of their life story and we may well see them back at Hodbarrow next year.
Sandwich tern at Hodbarrow taken from our camera trap.
If you are out and about and manage to read colour rings from terns or any other species there are a number of different schemes ongoing - you can report it at http://www.euring.org/ . Re-sighting is as important as the ringing itself!