Oysterbed update 12 April 2014 by Chris Cockburn

Hello folks

The black-headed gulls finally recovered from yesterday’s attack by a child’s blue balloon and are now really getting down to nest building. It is likely that many nests will need rebuilding if the upcoming spring tides start surging. However, the predicted astronomical tides for April, May and even June are not particularly high – so fingers crossed for lots of high pressure systems.

The recently imported shingle on the east end of the “NW Bund” looks very promising and hopefully, common terns, little terns, oystercatchers and ringed plovers will find it attractive as a nesting site.

The Mediterranean gulls are not nest building on the lagoon islands yet; but they are later nesters anyway. Today there were at least seven 1st summer Meds in the lagoon. Non-breeding Ist summer Meds are not the ideal birds to have in a gull and tern colony – given half the chance, these troublemaking delinquents will readily predate eggs & chicks – even of their own species.

Up to now, this year, South Binness and Round Nap Islands have rarely had gulls on them – but when they do, there are very many birds holding territory. There has been some peregrine (male & female) activity on the harbour’s islands (roosting & feeding) and that, unsurprisingly,  may deter the seabirds from nesting  or even sitting on the islands! This has happened in previous years and the problem was solved by increasing the frequency of close-to-island boat-patrols that encouraged peregrines to use Long Island and North Binness Island (islands not used for nesting by seabirds).

Apart from a few swallows flying past, there has been no significant migrant activity at the site; but the weather has often been good for birds to continue flying inland.

For the past week or so, one of my favourite spring events has been taking place – curlews leaving the harbour on their way to nesting grounds – even above the black-headed gull “din”, there is the sound of calling curlews as they climb higher and head off eastwards – great! Interestingly, a blackbird that has territory opposite my flat has incorporated some of the curlew sounds –making me rush to the balcony to scan the skies!!

Insects are more in evidence – several “Whites” that I have not yet identified (they would not cooperate by stopping still for a few seconds, Small Tortoiseshells egg-laying on nettles etc.

The wet winter has resulted in the vigorous growth of Medick plants (as in 2012) and there are many Milk Thistle rosettes (just 3 in 2013!) – Lesser Celandines and Daisies are currently in profuse bloom – it is all looking good!


Chris C

More great reporting from Chris. – Thank you for keeping us informed.

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