Bumper year for the 'Little Terns'

Maria Pepper

Published 16/08/2014 | 00:00

Protective action taken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service has resulted in a bumper year for nesting Little Terns on the sandbanks in Wexford Harbour.

Protective action taken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service has resulted in a bumper year for nesting Little Terns on the sandbanks in Wexford Harbour.

About 180 pairs of the seabird nested locally this year with the overall survival rate of the young being declared as 'very good'.

A few weeks ago, the Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht erected temporary signs on the isolated sand bar known as the Dogger Bank, asking people not to land their boats there for fear of scaring the ground nesting terns.

The signs have now been removed as the last of the young terns has learned to fly.

'We took the signs down last week and we are very grateful to all the people who heeded them,' said wildlife warden Dominic Berridge.

'The eggs and chicks are coloured just like sand and sea shells and it is very easy to step on them without knowing.

'If the adults are frightened into the air, it gives an advantage to gulls who swoop in and raid the nests,' he said.

The Wexford nesting success has been welcomed by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys.

'I'm delighted to hear that the terns are doing so well this year,' she said.

'It's rewarding to see that the effort put in by my department and people using Wexford Harbour is having a positive effect on the local bird population because nature can flourish if we lend it a helping hand.'

It has been a good year for all tern species with breeding success enjoyed by four other tern species that nest in Our Lady's Island lake and in Kilcoole, County Wicklow.

Terns are seabirds normally found near the sea, rivers or wetlands. They are slender, lightly built birds with long forked tails, narrow wings, long bills and relatively short legs.

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