16th May Langstone Harbour and Oysterbed update from Chris Cockburn

Ist Black-headed gull chick seen etc.


Hello folks

The first black-headed gull chick at the Oysterbeds was seen today by Richard who also noted 8 common terns and one Sandwich tern on the East Island of the lagoon. Richard also recorded at least seven little terns on the recently imported shingle at  the western end of the North West Bund – similar numbers to recent days, which strongly suggests that the little terns might nest there, given that this record was made during the low tide period (i.e. not just a high tide roost).

A boat tour around the harbour islands this afternoon revealed that significant numbers of little terns were roosting on the recent shingle recharge on South Binness Island and on the beaches of Baker’s Island – it was estimated that there must be at least c80 little terns in the harbour – demonstrating once again that, despite the recent breeding’ disasters, the harbour has a great attraction for these birds. It is evident that the RSPB Little Tern Project is on the right tracks in creating suitable habitats for these birds and how vital funding  is to achieve the aims.

Common terns were seen displaying and some apparently nesting on three of the harbour islands but it seems that Sandwich terns, and not unusual for them, have taken umbrage at the previous two very bad breeding seasons and have mostly deserted the harbour.

Good numbers of oystercatchers were seen but there was little evidence of a recovery in the numbers of breeding ringed plovers that have declined worryingly in recent years.

It was evident that Mediterranean gulls were nesting in low numbers compared to the 500 nests counted in 2011 (the year of the fox!); but this is no surprise for a colonising/pioneering species.

The territorial crows that are based on Long Island have not repeated their ground-nesting behaviour of 2010 but a crow has been recently seen (including today) foraging on the NW parts of South Binness and Baker’s Islands, particularly in the areas likely to be used by nesting little terns. This crow flies to and from the west and is perhaps based at FM.


Chris C

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