Saturday, June 2, 2012

2 June, 2012 - Little Tern Colony

Just had a great evening/night/morning/afternoon helping out at Kilcoole.

Niall had a long overdue night off, so I covered for him and pinned my 'Little Tern colony day-warden' name badge to my hi viz 'watch out for the train' health and safety vest.

The weather thankfully stayed dry until I left today about 5.30pm, when it started to pour (stifled lol), and the temp didn't get too hot or too cold, so working conditions were great for being outside and making notes.

Laura was great to work with doing the warden checks around the tern colony. She explained what needed to be done, we worked together for a while, then she left me alone with a list of things to do and working like this we flew through the incubation checks and egg count checks. We found a few new nests too, which I think brought the total from 78 to 85 nests.
We saw off a hunting Hobby!
We noticed it first yesterday over the colony and ran towards it until it flew off.
Hobbys in the past have eaten Little Terns so no matter how magnificent they are, they have to be chased off.
Not that it made much difference, the hobby seems to have taken a liking to the area and seems to be hanging around.

The Hobby was beautiful, I'd never seen one before, so to see one up close was priceless.

When Niall returned this afternoon, the Hobby took a seat on one of the posts and I was able to manage a few shots grabbing my camera out of the caravan.

Hobby on the posts today behind the buckthorn, Kilcoole, Wicklow. No difference between male or female adult hobbys, so no way of knowing if this Hobby is a her or him.
Suddenly something caught the Hobby's attention

but it was only Niall, twitching it with one foot in the portaloo so he could add Hobby to his list of birds he sees from the toilet.

That's right Hobby, nothing to see here.
I think you can actually see the Hobby lifting its eyes whilst tutting in this photo.

Shame I couldn't manage any decent shots from the front, the russet legs are something else and the thick, bold streaking is beautiful, but from this photo you can see how long the primaries are and the brown colouring to the feathers, plus look at those eyes and hooked beak.
The Great Sugarloaf and Little Sugarloaf, from basecamp, Kilcoole

Last night, whilst I was wandering around the fields taking the above photo, I heard a rustling in the long grass from behind Niall's caravan (the one I was sleeping in), knowing there were foxes around I turned on my head torch (yes I own a nerdy headtorch) ... anyway.. turned on the headtorch and a short eared owl got up and flew, spreading out its wings less than a meter away from me!
I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen owls, so to have this happen on my own, in complete darkness was surreal. And brilliant.
I wondered for a millisecond was it a Barn Owl because of how white the owl seemed, but the size and shape all said short eared owl and the whiteness was obviously due to the glare of the headtorch.
The sighting was only a few seconds, so I can't be 100% certain it was a SE owl over a LE or a Barn, but I'd be 95% sure.
So there you go.
Incredible way to spend a couple of days.
Thanks Laura, Cole and Niall, birds, nature and toffypops.
and Hi to the two Johns, nice to meet you both.