Sunday, 26 June 2016

New season, new colony

Approaching the end of June, the breeding season is starting to slow down, with young birds already fledging and dispersing from please keep an eye out for colour-ringed birds and report your sightings.

While there still might be an opportunity to make a late visit or two to our study colonies, I've finally gotten time to draw breath and reflect on the season so far.

The main development this season was the addition of a new colony, at Inch Lake, Lough Swilly in Co. Donegal.

Inch Lake is a brackish lagoon which was created by the development of the Farland and Inch embankments during the mid-19th century, separating it from the tidal waters of Lough Swilly.

View along Farland Embankment with Lough Swilly on the left
& Inch Lake on the right

Within Inch Lake there is a small islet which, during the breeding season, is home to a large colony of Sandwich Terns and Black-headed Gulls, as well as a few pairs of Tufted Ducks, Mute Swans, Mallard and Common Terns.

Inch Lake - you can see the islet just above the bush
in the foreground.

Sandwich Terns have been studied at Inch for over 30 years and this year we were fortunate enough to be invited along to ring Black-headed Gulls during the visits to study the terns.

Sandwich Tern chick
Photo by Causeway Coast Ringing Group

Meeting up with members of Causeway Coast Ringing Group and staff from NPWS, we made three visits to the colony, one in May (with young gulls only metal ringed) and two in June (with young gulls being colour-ringed as well as metal ringed). 

Approaching the islet

Over the three visits a total of 122 birds were colour-ringed, with an additional 39 fitted with metal rings only.

Young gull heading for cover after being colour-ringed
Photo by Marina Mulligan

It is fantastic to add this colony to our study as this will enable us to track movement of young birds from a colony right on the edge of the species' European range. 

Many thanks to Causeway Coast Ringing Group and NPWS for inviting us along and dealing with the logistics of organising the trips.

You can visit the Inch Wildfowl Reserve Facebook page for updates by clicking here and the Causeway Coast Ringing Group blog by clicking here.

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