Scholars Volunteer Dinner 2022

A great night was had by all at Scholars in Drogheda to celebrate another very successful year at Baltray. And a huge thanks to everyone who helped! Aine's knitted little terns made the night! See gallery for a few photos.


Last Four Chicks

I have been monitoring our last 4 chicks 🐥 for the last couple of weeks, romantic worrier, I like things to be seen through, that is just me. After all the efforts from all of us I had to make sure. Today, and to paraphrase Georges Gershwin’s legendary lyrics, I saw our last 4 chicks fly, training flying, which involves the adults carrying fish; it was amazing. I will be down in the morning. I added a couple of pictures of the slight few days a difference can make. What an amazing adventure! Franck


Last Chicks

Hi all, I hope you are well! Very little activity today with one young flying chick outside pen 2 and after an hour scanning the sight between 7 and 5, I am happy to report that our latest chicks (4) are being well fed and looked after. It started to rain at 11:30 and the clouds were a bit stationary but before that, I spotted our peregrine fella on the strand at low tide. The very few terns left gave it hell and a grey crow looking for bits got it too; they really don’t like them! I will be around for the next couple of days and probably next week for tidying up 🧹. I will leave you with some ( poor) pictures of our peregrine. Have a nice evening!


Dog Days!

All great today in Baltray, Eithne covered sos beag and I was there for sos mór and Maurice there now for the bedtime story - many visitors to the beach today of all nationalities, including someone I hadn't seen since primary school (20 years ago😜) who now lives in Italy - everyone full of chat and not one rule breaker. Gull must have got itself out of pen🤔 Gerard Murray was down and identified a leas tern by call at around 4pm. Beach full of happy hoomins and boids - snail explosion continues - water fab so bring your togs 🧜‍♀️🦀🧜‍♀️☀️



Hi all! It was a quiet day today but I had a mix of 80 Little Terns, young and adults on the shore. I stayed North during the high tide period from 9 to 12:30 but no one came to cross while all the birds were resting. No bird of prey attack either. After lunch I went back there and decided to leave the sign 🪧 that @⁨Noel⁩ kindly brought over. Great to see @⁨Tom⁩ popping in this morning also for a bit of banter and @⁨Matthew⁩ with his family at lunchtime! Big Merci to @⁨Aine⁩ for letting me know about the amadan who parked his/her car right at the gate, thankfully I had left a bit earlier as the heat was getting to me a bit. Take care all and looking forward to see you in the last stretch. We have 8 chicks left and nearly ready to take off. 10 days from now will keep me very happy. I leave with two amigos having a rest like I am about to take. Slán Tamall, Franck.


Sail on...

“Sail on, my little honey bees sail on “ 🎶 a Muddy Waters 🎸 introduction to let you know that the “ Buffer Twins” are now flying 🤗! I started to move the posts in the cage but I had to police a mother and two teenagers for having their dog off lead near the sensitive zone; twice... The second time things got more direct! Anyhoo, @⁨Maurice Connaghy⁩ , I will have the job done. We should still have 8 non flying chicks 🐣 in there so l don’t want to mess up the end game. Two more chicks are ready in 6, nearly there in 2 ( formerly 1). And the latest of 5, super hard to see but the activity is right. I would love the perimeter to remain, still a lot of feeding and chasing the unwelcome. 300 Sanderlings on the beach with close to 100 Dunlins and 15 Roseate Terns flying over the caravans at 4 pm. Have a great evening!



I've noticed quite a bit of insect activity on the beach at the moment. On Sunday there were several eruptions of flying ants, with huge flocks of swallows feeding on them. They all seemed to be black garden ants ( Lasius niger). Also apparent were large numbers of 6-spot burnets emerging from their cocoons, as well as cinnabar caterpillars feeding on ragwort, and just one adult on the way out. When they emerge they leave their exoskeletons behind...


Thanks to Ku and Yu-Hann

Many thanks to Ku and Yu-Hann for their for their fantastic work on the site this summer. Your dedication to the wardening and recording work was fantastic and really contributed tot he success of the project. Best of luck in the future! On behalf of the Louth Natrue Trust


140 Chicks

Dia Dhaoibh a chairde 📰! A quick round up of the day, between a loss in translation with her little poodle 🐩 hanging out in the buffer zone, I made light of the event as her English wasn’t super but we laughed about it in the end. Chased a few hooded crows but the terns did all the work really, same with the Sparrowhawk who they escorted all the way to Meath, quite far in fact. We met some cool people really interested and a kind jogger from Poland who didn’t want to disturb the birds so decided to turn around... Legend! It was Yu-Hann’s last day today and it was lovely to have shared a slice of life with them young students. Ku will finish tomorrow. As I ended a call with Breffni wondering about Roseate Terns, 10 flew over the caravans. Life is good and another page is slowly turning. Have a wonderful weekend, I will be back on Sunday 😉.


Quick Summary

Good evening my dear Tern people, here are some quick news; all the chicks are around even the last two I thought lost, a bit more activity but it’s gone very quiet with 60 + at some stage around the shores. I got a bit tired of people not quite respecting the area ( and also running haha 😆) so I put some ( very last) clear signs 🪧 on each side of the outer buffer... just for the last couple of weeks, no excuses! A Sparrowhawk made an appearance south shore and quite far near the stone marker and in the commotion all the cormorants took off so no luck this time... For her! That was 11:40, soon to be followed by our Peregrine North side , in this case again, no cigar! Have a pleasant evening and I leave you with a couple of shots from my patrols 😉.


Quick Roundup

Good evening everyone! Quick round up of the day; after a very rainy drive, I decided to do “an audit” of the chicks 🐣 situation. We seem to have 14 non flying chicks in pens and my missing 2 from 5 might just be around after all! Our buffer twins on 7 now are doing great, flapping away but not quite there yet. With the help of Louth County Council we managed to pick up our poor beached seal 🦭 and we had to explain a couple of joggers the importance to keep off a protected area of conservation. From me and for now, over and out!


1st August update

Dear Friends of the Little Terns, here are the news 📰! First of all, the last chicks 🐣 of the season are out on 5; according to my observations today we should still have 14 “under age” chicks in pens and about 6 in critical attention ⚠️ as the rooks and greys are back with a vengeance and a couple of hooded crows landed on 6 and they had be running! Since I was on my own after Aine left this morning, I had to hire “The Stump” when I was out chasing crows. I met a lot of very understanding humans and spent time chatting and showing and sharing the birds’ lives, all of them 🔭! Very uplifting that way and as a result we had no walkers on the beach. Another good news is that our “buffer twins” are doing great, still in 7 and getting fed regularly. Another two chicks on 6 ventured in the buffer but the parents literally kicked them back in. After high tide snooze where I counted 120+ adults and young on the beach, there was over 200 oystercatchers, 300 Sanderlings and well over 100 Dunlins and Plovers. Franck


Thursday 28th July

Well, what a busy day! We have new chicks 🐣 on 6, the 3 days old chicks of one moved to 6, a tern still on nest in 5 and after over 40 days, “Lonely Jane” in buffer is clearly giving up her little egg by much longer absences. Bright side? We witnessed a lot of training on the shores, literally adults showing the younger ones the ropes about flying and fishing, sometimes with a bait, amazing to watch. There are still a lot of flying young and adults on the strand. A couple of Rooks are knocking about so be vigilant and a Kestrel made an appearance north side but no big threat. To follow with @⁨Dominic Hartigan⁩ said, you can count on me to be there until it’s Dunta Sterna and I leave you with a cúpla pictures. Tóg go bog é 😊!


Kilcoole Update

Birdwatch Ireland run a parallel conservation project for little terns at Kilcoole ( This year they stopped much of the wardening, ringing and weighting chicks on the advice of RSPB due to bird flu. In the event no evidence of bird flu was found. The site produced about 250 pairs at peak, and about half of the chicks died of starvation apparently abandoned on the nests. This typically happens when birds are spending a lot of time hunting for fish at sea, a knock on effect of over fishing and climate change. It was estimated that something in the range of 150 chicks may have actually fledged, but no formal count..... It would seem that little terns are relatively protected from bird flu by the fact that, unlike other terns species, they tend to have mono-specific site, not intermingling with the other terns....


Nearing the End of the Season

Hi all, I hope all is well; I can confirm 2 new borns in 1, at least 1 new chick in 5 and expecting 2, 1 on nest in 6, 1 on nest in 5 and buffer still on her one egg. Loads of fledglings again today, and our “buffer twins” are getting quite plump, now enjoying the grass on 7. A very soft day with loads of Sanderlings, some new Plovers chicks have hatched 🐣 on 8 ( 3), full tide is wonderful, tomorrow near 11:30 am if you want to enjoy it! I leave you with some shots, loads of plovers around too and a hidden Knot, will you spot it? 😉. I also put a picture of Rockabill, at 3pm all was so clear and we counted over 100 guillemots! Ok, I am off! Slán Tamall! Franck


"Heat Wave"

Good evening! Well it was actually quite cool this afternoon with the South Eastern winds ( 23 in the shade) but back home and I had up to 33 c. A new chick is out on a nest I didn’t even spot ( hidden on 4, close to us in front of the caravans, I would expect a second one by tomorrow). Still 2 on eggs in 4 and 1 and our oldest bird with one egg on buffer. One must believe but that would be incredible! Speaking of the “miracle chicks”, they are doing great, survived the even higher tide of last night and have now move to pen 7, in and out and eating well. That hot spell was no bother to them all, especially this afternoon. Amazing activity around, displays, feeding and fun. But a Peregrine launched a more serious attack near 1:30 pm and I was concerned when I saw white feathers this morning on the very low tide but it could be other things so no sweat. Franck



Nice afternoon at the site at Baltray yesterday, despite the heat. Large numbers of juvs along the tideline (at one point i counted 155 mixed juvs and adults covering the southern half of the colony). Also about 20 arctic terns arrived. According to Franck there are still four or five pairs sitting, bu tthe big news was that a nest, apparently abandoned, but fortunately moved ahead of a big tide, finally produced chicks after 30 days incubation (little terns typically 18-22 days, with a further 20 days to fledging), quite a record! Also were increasing numbers of waders and other tern species, several dispersing roseates calling around the bar.


Bastille day

Good evening dear friends! The colony is slowly getting smaller since a good few chicks are now flying, more activity in the morning and late afternoon. High tide is pretty strong but the high pressure will be keeping it in check. Sandwich Terns spent a lot of time on the south strand with 155 individuals and mostly young ones. Also feeding the able air smiths just like ours. Still about 5 to 6 terns on nests so we’ll see what happens next. All in all, the colony has had a very healthy and peaceful season and one should be grateful about that fact, in so many ways. I will leave you with a few shots of some sandpiper friends who have kept us entertained since the beginning ; Dulins and Sanderlings. Oíche mhaith! Franck


Sunset at Baltray



Good evening all! Another busy day for the Little Terns, 110 on the shore and many chicks out and about, no big change from yesterday and still 7 on eggs. Noticeable this afternoon was over 90 Sandwich Terns with their young, shooting the breeze and sharing an auld fish or eel. 20+ Common Terns with a couple of young ones also. A kestrel hovered for a wee while “Northside” but was more interested in what was happening in the dunes. Chatted to a few people and invited them to look at a few birds on the telescope 🔭. So very positive. It is now very important to spend more time on the northern fence/ area to leave all birds in peace. Over 15 curlews also, Dunlins and Sanderlings and a very colourful Knot. Franck


Enclosure from Space

The enclosed area for nesting little terns is over two kilometers in length in two cordons, the outer just flexi fencing and the inner electrified. Erecting and dismantling this involves a huge volunteer effort every season. The fencing keeps foxes and other ground predators, such as rodents, out. The specific design has been improved over the years so that these days is it very rare for a fox to cause problems.


Sixty Chicks On The Move

This morning there were at least 60 chicks along the shore practicing flying, four of which are now fully fledged. There are still six nests with eggs. It should be a great week for them given the weather forecast Franck


About Franck

Franck Le Moënner is our lead ornithologist for the little terns site at Baltray this year. Franck was born and grew up in Brittany, near Vannes in the old salt marshes of Séné, home of the black winged stilt. This is where he trained to become an ornithologist, as well as in Cap Sizun on the kittiwake project. He is a licensed ringer, mostly passerines but also kittiwakes and storm petrels. He trained as a wildlife guide in the marshes of Brière and Guérande and worked in various locations and ecosystems around Brittany, also worked in Glenveagh National park and I have been living in Ireland since 1994.


Site Update

Yesterday evening there was a lot of courtship behavior at Baltray, with wing display and food presents. These are likely to be refugee birds from other less successful sites. We have heard that chicks are being found dead in the nest elsewhere, likely to be caused by a starvation. If these birds do lay their chicks wont fledge until mid August at the earliest, still just enough time to make their migration to west Africa. Also notable this year is the general aggression of the flock. When any crow or gull passes overhead 100 birds lift and harry them until they leave the site. This is very positive and contributes tot eh success of the breading season.


95 Chicks and Counting

As of yesterday evening there are 120 adults, at least 95 chicks, many very mobile, and at least 28 further eggs to hatch per Franck LeMoenner, our site ecologist this year. To date only one nest has ben abandoned, while only three were lost to the spring tide backed by wind mid-last month. If all goes well this will be comparable to our most successful years.


June update

As of the end of June we have 42 chicks fledged out of 120 adults.


Little Tern Blog

Today we have recorded a total of 43 chicks with a further 60 or so eggs to hatch. So far we have had only one bad weather day last week, when the outer seaward fence had to be repaired. Thanks again to all the volunteers for their help and support. Breffni