Thursday, 27 June 2019

Shorebird Chicks Steal The Show

The sun has finally come out! Just what our breeding shorebirds need to give chicks their best chance at fledging. They have had a tough few weeks with strong winds and heavy rain, but we put out numerous chick shelters in the hope they would have a refuge from the elements. This was hugely successful, and because of that most of our Little Tern and Ringed Plover chicks survived the storm!

Juvenile Ringed Plover. Image © JJD

Oystercatcher chicks have also hatched; small balls of fluff that look very top-heavy with their long beaks! The adults continue to protect the colony from all sorts of predators, but despite their best efforts a cunning sparrowhawk took one of their chicks – food for chicks of its own.

As the tide recedes, tide pools on the beach are full of trapped sandeels and are the perfect hunting ground for little terns and an ideal place for young birds to learn how to fish. Sandeel stocks have been great this year and chicks are been well fed by adults.

Adult Little Tern feeding

Ringed Plover chicks are also doing very well. Exclusions zones across the Reserve being kept free from disturbance are a valuable resource for these birds, as they are very active and must learn to feed for themselves as soon as they can walk. Ringed Plover chicks have already successfully fledged and can now explore the Reserve by air as well as by foot! Arctic and Common Tern chicks are also due to fledge any day now.

Arctic Tern nest with two chicks and one egg hidden amongst the Marram Grass

Spot the Arctic Tern chick!

As we head towards July, we are at a pivotal point in the Shorebird Season. Small chicks are extremely vulnerable to predators, and make a tasty snack for foxes, kestrels and gulls. Parent birds have a hard job to protect their young, and the best way we can help them do this is to ensure they go undisturbed and stay close to chicks.

Adult Little Tern next to its chick... photo-bombed by a Ringed Plover chick!

Adult Ringed Plover with two young chicks 

We will keep you posted on the journey of the chicks as they start to fledge! Fingers cross this weather is here to stay!

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