Public must stay away from nesting colony
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has urged dog owners and members of the public not to enter a birds' colony in Wexford Harbour where Little Terns have settled to nest.
The chances of chicks successfully hatching can be greatly diminished if they are disturbed by people.
Having nested on the Forth Bank last year and the Dogger Bank the previous year, the Little Terns are back to their more traditional site on the sand banks off Rosslare Point.
It's estimated that 200 pairs are sitting on eggs, which should hatch shortly. The chicks take to the air about three weeks after hatching.
The NPWS has put up temporary signs asking people not to enter the colony so that the chicks have the best possible chance of survival.
NPWS Ranger Tony Murray said: 'The Little Terns' eggs and chicks look like seashells on the beach, so anyone could easily trample on them. The last time a colony was located here, the birds failed to breed due to disturbance by people entering the breeding area. Dogs pose an even bigger danger so we are urging dog owners to take particular care.
'The number of birds using Wexford Harbour has been very significant over the last two years, making this one of the biggest colonies of Little Terns in Ireland.
'We hope that, with the cooperation of the public, hundreds of chicks will successfully hatch in the coming weeks.'