SANDYMOUNT TERN ROOST – Sean Hogan
Before we meet again, after the summer break, one of the great sights of the autumn migration will have taken place on Sandymount Strand when from mid-August to mid-September up to 6,000 terns will gather to roost each evening as darkness falls.
The terns begin to gather about an hour before dark, flock along the waterline and the numbers continue to grow as they arrive from all directions until dark. Usually they favour the Booterstown end of the strand, but like to keep birdwatchers guessing and often move as far north as Ringsend Nature Park. As their numbers grow they are a mass of non-stop and noisy chatter. They settle for a minute and then for no apparent reason will wheel along the beach in their 1,000’s, always closely packed together. Nonetheless there are always good numbers roosting on the sand long enough to allow a good scan with optics.
The communication, excited and raucous, is non-stop and to my ear reflects the joy of a successful breeding season, the high jinks of this years chicks and the excited anticipation that all creatures have before undertaking an epic journey.
It is hard to estimate numbers but on a good evening I should think 5/6000 bird roost and I have heard estimates of 10,000. The flock is predominately Common Terns with good number of Arctics. There have been estimates of up to 500 Roseate and the careful ear will pick up their distinctive ‘chivvick’ call. There are usually a handful of Sandwich Terns looking a little bemused by the level of activity. Each year a few Black Terns appear, often late, flying in along the shoreline from Blackrock. They can be hard to spot in bad light but there are usually a few well trained eyes that will pick them out for you.
To get the best views you should time your visit so that the rising tide is pushing the flock close to the area between Booterstown Dart Station and Merrion Gates where you can enjoy the gathering from the sea-wall. Otherwise if you put on your wellies and amble across the sands from the Strand Road car-parks to the tide-line any evening in August you will be able to get close to the action. Just keep an eye on the tide because it comes in fast and there is a danger of the unwary being cutoff. Last August I noticed that the numbers fluctuated quite a bit from evening to evening and this may be explained by the movement of the fish shoals on which they feed along the coast. I understand good numbers often roost at Skerries. Last year we thought they had finally left in early September but were surprised on the 10th when one of the biggest roosts of the autumn occurred. But that proved to be the final roost of the year because all was quite on the following evenings.
For me there is no better feeling than making my way home across the sands of Sandymount after darkness has descended, an autumnal touch to the breeze, the terns no longer visible but very audible and my head full of the possibilities that another two months of autumn migration will bring, along with the eagerly anticipated return of our winter waders and wildfowl. If Bloomsday occurred in August the tern roost on Sandymount Strand might now be immortalised in Joyce’s Ulysses.
So when August comes around get out the tide timetable and wellies and I’ll see you on the Strand.
The Dalkey Tern Project
Roseate Terns are a globally threatened species. Ireland boasts the largest colonies in Europe with over 550 pairs nesting at Rockabill, off Skerries in north Co. Dublin and up to 120 pairs at Lady’s Island Lake in Co. Wexford.
Roseate Terns need help to increase their numbers. They prefer to nest under cover or in vegetation and they readily use man-made nest boxes. They happily breed among colonies of other tern species where they gain protection from predators. The South Dublin branch of BirdWatch Ireland have fixed a large number of nest boxes on Maiden’s Rock, and a small area of Lamb Island has been fence off to exclude the feral goat herd and to allow the vegetation to develop.
Hopefully, these actions may encourage prospecting Roseate Terns to use these sites thus starting a new colony of this lovely bird in Ireland. BirdWatch Ireland staff and branch volunteers monitor the site and the tern’s activities during the breeding season, that is until the end of August.
The New BirdWatch Website
As you can see, we have brand new website here at Birdweb. It was graciously donated by one of our esteemed members – John Newson. John works for Net Spring – a Web Design and SEO company. If you would like a quote on website design, social media marketing or SEO Sydney, visit www.netspring.com.au and tell John that you are friends of BirdWatch.
Biodiversity – Do we have the courage to save it?
Brussels, 22 May 2010 – Today, with its groundbreaking new report on the state of biodiversity in the EU, BirdLife International denounces the EU’s failure to reach its target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 and indicates the necessary steps needed to stop the loss of biodiversity and to enhance its recovery in the EU.
The report highlights Ireland’s poor record at a European level: poisonings of birds of prey and loss of valuable wetlands that help prevent flooding are amongst the more serious issues facing our natural environment. Unfortunately the areas we are failing to perform in cut across everything – legislation, the capacity of Government departments and agencies to enforce environmental protection measures, and the lack of resources available to undertake active conservation measures.
“The message from this report is clear: the EU needs to take decisive action if it wants to turn the tide on the deepening biodiversity crisis and follow on the pledge of the European Heads of State, who adopted a new ambitious target during their last European Council” commented Ariel Brunner, Head of EU Policy at BirdLife International European Division. “We know what to do. The question is: do we have the will and the courage to take action before it is too late?”
The report, entitled “2010-Turning or Breaking Point for Europe’s Wildlife?”, was compiled in cooperation with BirdWatch Ireland and its fellow BirdLife Partners in all 27 EU Member States, and analyses the progresses towards the 2010 biodiversity target against 10 major groups of indicators. Worryingly, three were rated as “highly insufficient”, while all the others as “inadequate”.
“The EU has failed to achieve the 2010 target and is still a long way off from preventing further loss of wildlife and habitats. The picture emerging from our assessment is one of continuing impoverishment of biodiversity and inadequate responses” continued Mr Brunner.“Despite the overall failure, however, there are many examples of best practices and local success stories that show how the EU already has powerful conservation tools, such as the EU Birds and Habitats Directives”.
As highlighted in the report, a strong post 2010 EU biodiversity policy must be properly implemented, especially focusing on its integration with other EU policies and on funding instruments. The report suggests specific actions that would enable a new EU biodiversity policy to achieve its goals, such as stronger enforcement of EU nature legislation, develop 2020 biodiversity strategies for key sectoral policies such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), new investments in green infrastructure and strong measures to counteract the causes of biodiversity and ecosystem loss.
The status of national biodiversity strategies shows that insufficient attention is paid to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at national level. Therefore it is essential that the EU leads by example in the preparation of the next Nagoya COP10-CBD meeting later this year.
“BirdLife International, official Partner of the International Year of Biodiversity, spotlights the need for the EU to show leadership by setting itself real and binding future targets ahead of next conference of the Convention of Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, this October”, concludes Mr Brunner.