Friday, October 2, 2009

Sooty Terns

 Sooty Terns - chick and  juvenile  (photos: Gareth Rapley)
During a break in the weather last week, Gina and I rock hopped westwards along the coastline to peg out the quadrats for this years Sooty Tern study.  Along with the compulsory first aid kit, radio, and GPS, we had stashed in our packs, stakes, hammers and tape measures. We marked out five areas for monitoring this year.  The areas chosen were guided by GPS points made during last year's study and at those sites where birds have nested in the past. As we banged in the stakes it was sad to see a number of tern skeletons: the birds that didn’t make it last year. They nest under huge cliffs so falling rocks, erosion and even high tides all take their toll.
These birds were heavily predated by the rats and cats, so now following eradication of these pests it is hoped that their numbers will be on the rise. The study is completed annually to monitor the density and numbers of nesting birds along this stretch of the coastline.   

One of the monitored nesting plots.

 Adult Terns (photo: Gareth Rapley)
Unfortunately we will miss the interesting part, as the birds don’t start nesting until November and most of the chicks leave by around the end of March.

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