Oysterbeds Update 6 May 2014 – Chris Cockburn

Hello folks

On the Oysterbeds’ lagoon islands this year, the number of Mediterranean gull nesting pairs will probably reach double figures while a preliminary count of black-headed gull nests suggests that, presently, there are significantly less pairs than the 1149 counted in 2013. Most of the gulls are apparently brooding eggs and it is likely that the first chicks will be seen by next weekend and the main hatch will probably be in just over two weeks’ time. On Sunday 05 May, a peregrine caught a gull and started to eat it on the western (straight) island . After being dive-bombed by hundreds of angry gulls, the peregrine flew off with its kill to have a quieter meal on Stoke Bay Spit. A peregrine will rarely succeed in taking an adult gull from a large colony using a typical stooping attack; but this bird probably came in fast and low over lagoon and did an “up and under” to capture its prey (presumably, it had been taking lessons from a merlin during the winter!!). It will be interesting to see if this falcon becomes a regular visitor.

On Sunday, a dead adult black-headed gull was found close to the lagoon in Stoke Bay and it is suspected that its demise was caused by a pellet from an air rifle/pistol. It would be appreciated that if anyone sees signs of such activity that they might please contact me..

Recently, there have been fewer visits and overflights by Sandwich terns, which suggests that they are now probably nesting on South Binness Island; but it is still possible that a few might choose to nest at the Oysterbeds.

Common terns are regularly roosting in good numbers on Stoke Bay Spit and some have been fishing and displaying in the lagoon (see photo below):

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Common Tern displaying – Image Chris Cockburn

Some of the harbour’s common and little terns have frequently been seen feeding in Texaco Bay and they should soon be reaching good breeding condition for nesting. Both of these species have paid brief visits to the new shingle recharge on the NW Bund  (that forms the northern boundary of the lagoon) and it is possible that some may nest there.

Flowering plants (on the mound that overlooks the lagoon) presently include good quantities of Bugle, Scarlet pimpernel, Herb Robert, Forget-me-nots, White dead nettle etc. Milk Thistle and Medick  are growing in profusion, unlike 2013 when there were very few of these plants.

Green-veined White, Orange tip, Peacock, Holly Blue and Red Admiral butterflies have been seen locally.

Regards

Chris C

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