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