Conservation group continues to protect Dalkey Terns

by Gary Ibbotson
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Birdwatch Ireland and local conservationists are once again observing and protecting the returning Terns of Dalkey Islands

Terns are the rarest breeding seabird in Europe and every year a variety of species select the islands as breeding grounds.

Tara Adcock of BirdWatch Ireland says that the The Dalkey Islands Tern Project has been running since 1995.

“In 2016 the project received funding from the EU LIFE Roseate Tern Recovery Project which has allowed a part time warden to be employed, signage to be erected, access to the islands, rat control to be carried out, etc.

“We are currently in the fourth year of a five year funding programme. Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council has also provided match funding in some years and has provided equipment,” says Adcock.

Adcock says the aim of the project is to “create and sustain suitable breeding habitat for Common, Arctic and Roseate Terns, with a particular focus on Roseate Terns.”

Roseate Terns are one of the rarest seabirds in Europe. In 1989 there were only 180 breeding pairs spotted on Rockabill Island with that number rising to 1600 pairs last year.

An “incredible conservation story,” says Adcock.

“Every year, nest boxes are put out on Lamb Island and Maiden Rock (the two islands in the Dalkey Island complex which have the largest Tern breeding sub colonies).

“These are put in place for Roseate Terns because this species likes to nest under cover, unlike Arctic and Common Terns which prefer to nest in the open,” she says.

Rat control was also undertaken during the winter months on the islands and canes are placed on Lamb Island in a one metre by one metre alternating grid to deter large gulls from predating Tern eggs and chicks.

Adcock says that Tern chicks typically fledge around the beginning of August and you’ll see both adults and chicks roosting until the end of the month, before they begin their long migration south.

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