The Re-Tern to Normality at Kilcoole Little Tern Conservation Project

June 15, 2020
Kilcoole Little Tern ProjectNewsSeabirds

This year has been far from normal! Obviously everyone’s priorities, our own included, have been on following government guidelines and ensuring the pandemic doesn’t spread – the sooner it’s gone the sooner we return to normality! Understandably, our work on Kilcoole Beach to protect the Little Tern colony was delayed a bit because of the pandemic, but thankfully we have been up and running now for nearly six weeks and the colony is in full swing. Our wardens are being kept very busy, and obviously they have new procedures in place to allow for social distancing and a safe workplace for the coming months!


Two very curious Little Terns (Photo take under NPWS license by E. Hogan)


In the first two weeks we erected the public and predator fences. These went up quickly enough, although they were dragged back down just two days later by a storm. Luckily we managed to act fast and keep the netting untangled for a quick fix! This year we have had to manage without a hide (due to the pandemic) and have utilised scaffolding and camouflage netting in order to conduct our incubation checks and locate new nests. So far we have managed to stay on top of it, but with the recent bad weather and an influx of new adults we’re beginning to feel the toll.


Our predator-proof fence and new ‘fox light’ on Kilcoole Beach (A. McManus)


Our first nest was located on the 13th May and we currently have located 203 nests, with 138 of these active with chicks or hatchlings. Unfortunately with the poor weather conditions over the past few weeks the tide washed out numerous nests. We have also had incursions from Hooded Crows and Rooks, which have taken several nests and are keeping wardens on their toes! On a lighter note, all of these birds are still present in the colony and are re-laying as I type this, while others have already laid and have evaded our detection. Our first nest was also our first to hatch on the 5th June with a clutch of 3. Since then we have had another 43 hatches, and a lot more to follow!


Nesting Little Terns on Kilcoole Beach in 2020 (Photos taken under NPWS license by E. Hogan).


Anyway, that is all the news from the Little Tern colony for now!


All the best from Andrew & The Kilcoole 2020 team.


Sunset over the lagoon (A. McManus).


This year’s work to protect and monitor the Little Terns and other nesting birds on Kilcoole Beach would not be possible without funding from  the National Parks and Wildlife Service in Wicklow.

To revisit news and blogs from previous years at the Kilcoole LittleTern project, click here.