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Succesful RSPB Sandwich Tern project.

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Old Wednesday 17th April 2019, 14:43   #1
pratincol
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Succesful RSPB Sandwich Tern project.

The RSPB Sandwich Tern project at Hodbarrow , Cumbria has obviously paid off dividends.
They fenced off the tern colony from foxes, which were swimming to the island[ the fence was established underwater].
It lead to an astonishing record number of 1950 pairs of Sandwich Terns raising 525 chicks, in 2018.
One of the youngsters made it to 45km east of Cape Town where it was ringed- a very impressive journey to say the least.
If you see any orange or dark blue rings , starting with C, followed by two digits contact [email protected]
Great news!

Last edited by pratincol : Wednesday 17th April 2019 at 14:50.
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Old Wednesday 17th April 2019, 16:22   #2
Farnboro John
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I do wonder about the legitimacy of these artificial obstacles put in the way of native predators. If Sandwich Terns can't breed in a locality without them, perhaps they aren't meant to. That would make them as much an invasive alien on that island as a Brown Rat.

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Old Wednesday 17th April 2019, 16:55   #3
Steve Lister
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If the numbers quoted are correct then at least 1425, probably a lot more, pairs of terns failed to rear any young. Is that really a success story?

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Old Wednesday 17th April 2019, 18:39   #4
njlarsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
I do wonder about the legitimacy of these artificial obstacles put in the way of native predators. If Sandwich Terns can't breed in a locality without them, perhaps they aren't meant to. That would make them as much an invasive alien on that island as a Brown Rat.

John
And maybe if humans were not around there would be wolves and eagles keeping the population of foxes down so that the terns would nest there. It is this kind of arguments that can go in ring forever. The validity of a project such as the one described here would also, to my mind at least, depend on the status of the species or maybe better of the management unit (could be a distinctive subspecies instead of species for example).

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Old Wednesday 17th April 2019, 18:58   #5
pratincol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Lister View Post
If the numbers quoted are correct then at least 1425, probably a lot more, pairs of terns failed to rear any young. Is that really a success story?

Steve
Yes, it's success story compared with previous years' results for young terns reared.
In 2015 no breeding was recorded. The last published report[2016] from Cumbria Bird report states only 7 fledged.
There were 526 reared in 2018 which is 75 times more.
I'd class that as a success.

Last edited by pratincol : Wednesday 17th April 2019 at 19:35.
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Old Thursday 18th April 2019, 16:52   #6
Steve Lister
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How many pairs were present in 2015 and 2016? Are birds drawn in to the fenced area as a safe place to nest? Why do so many then fail to breed successfully?

Sorry for all the questions, but it is an interesting thread.

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Old Thursday 18th April 2019, 18:27   #7
pratincol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Lister View Post
How many pairs were present in 2015 and 2016? Are birds drawn in to the fenced area as a safe place to nest? Why do so many then fail to breed successfully?

Sorry for all the questions, but it is an interesting thread.

Steve

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Lister View Post
How many pairs were present in 2015 and 2016? Are birds drawn in to the fenced area as a safe place to nest? Why do so many then fail to breed successfully?

Sorry for all the questions, but it is an interesting thread.

Steve

Steve

2014- 20 pairs, no fledged young.
2015- 350 birds present- no attempt at breeding[ fox predation was implicated for the low Little Tern productivity at Hodbarrow that year].
The 2016 report says up to 1000 pairs were present but only 7 fledged.
The 2017 figures aren't to hand but I read a report they had a succesful season for Sandwich Terns.
The next figures I've seen are: 2018,1950 pairs[record numbers] raising 525 chicks.
As far as I can recall there was one main island in the middle of the lagoon where gulls and terns competed to occupy space[ they filmed foxes and cubs visiting it too].
Interestingly, gull numbers increased there after they were scared off the local prison roof, where they used to roost. They had become a nuisance attacking prisoners, when carrying trays of food across the exercise yard.
To reduce competition and provide more potential nesting areas, the RSPB created some more islands and floating platforms, protected by a foxproof fence. The origional fence installed was apparently not foxproof so it was replaced, I believe, but I stand to be corrected, if wrong.
This has lead to the remarkable increase in pairs and fledged young.
Hope this helps.

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Old Thursday 18th April 2019, 20:05   #8
Farnboro John
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OK, here's a question: how does the new productivity sit with the turnover in the population? Has the RSPB simply created a large number of new Sandwich Terns for which there are no nesting areas (space on the islands being finite) that will not therefore add to breeding success and which will nevertheless remove resources (fish) from the established breeders as well as raising the competition for nest sites perhaps to the point beyond which resolution is possible, thereby reducing success per nest?

In other words, is this a managed strategy or just an assumption that more must be better?

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Old Friday 19th April 2019, 05:58   #9
pratincol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Lister View Post
How many pairs were present in 2015 and 2016? Are birds drawn in to the fenced area as a safe place to nest? Why do so many then fail to breed successfully?

Sorry for all the questions, but it is an interesting thread.

Steve
Steve
I forgot to mention the history of the site.
It was an old iron ore mine which they flooded after it became defunct.
They built the origional island using limestone.
One half was given over to watersports enthusiasts and the RSPB created the other half as a reserve. A great example of humans and wildlife mixing well together.
It's got a small hide and if you look over the sea wall, just behind the hide, you can do some sea watching too.
There's lots of scrubby areas around the site, good for birds and other wildlife.
The problem is getting there. Unless you are over that way the road to Millom, where it's located, is a long and winding affair and slow progress[ like many roads in Cumbria].
I haven't been there for years, because of the travelling but it's wasn't like the sort of RSPB reserve with lots of visitor facilities, in those days; just a long, very rough track, a hide and that's it.
There was never anybody there, and you'd have the hide to yourself.
Not sure if things have changed much over the years.

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Old Friday 19th April 2019, 07:33   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
OK, here's a question: how does the new productivity sit with the turnover in the population? Has the RSPB simply created a large number of new Sandwich Terns for which there are no nesting areas (space on the islands being finite) that will not therefore add to breeding success and which will nevertheless remove resources (fish) from the established breeders as well as raising the competition for nest sites perhaps to the point beyond which resolution is possible, thereby reducing success per nest?

In other words, is this a managed strategy or just an assumption that more must be better?

John
The number of birds nesting at any particular site varies considerably from year to year. Large numbers of birds often switch sites and mass desertion sometimes occurs due to predation events. Sandwich Terns also sometimes take a year off from breeding so it is difficult to make generalisations based on any one single year.

The overall UK breeding population seems to have been reasonably stable since the 1980s although it fluctuates substantially from year to year. There has however been a steady decline in productivity since 2000.

The productivity at Hodbarrow in 2018 appears to be following that trend. Between 1986 and 2010, productivity at Hodbarrow averaged 0.49 chicks per pair. However the range over that period was from 0.00 to 1.32 chicks per pair. (JNCC and Collins New Nat.)

Maybe increasing protection at one site simply results in birds being poached from other sites, or it could give the birds more options following mass desertion due to predation elsewhere. Large exchanges of birds have certainly occurred in the past between Hodbarrow and other sites following predation events.

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I haven't been there for years, because of the travelling but it's wasn't like a typical RSPB reserve with facilities, in those days. Just a long, very rough track, a hide and that's it.
There was never anybody there, and you'd have the hide to yourself.
Not sure if things have changed much over the years.
Things haven't changed much! There are perhaps a few more birdwatchers about now although not many. Most appear to be locals. There are still no more facilities than what you describe which is part of the reason why I like the place so much.

Last edited by andreadawn : Friday 19th April 2019 at 07:40. Reason: Typos.
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Old Friday 19th April 2019, 07:47   #11
pratincol
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The number of birds nesting at any particular site varies considerably from year to year. Large numbers of birds often switch sites and mass desertion sometimes occurs due to predation events. Sandwich Terns also sometimes take a year off from breeding so it is difficult to make generalisations based on any one single year.

The overall UK breeding population seems to have been reasonably stable since the 1980s although it fluctuates substantially from year to year. There has however been a steady decline in productivity since 2000.

The productivity at Hodbarrow in 2018 appears to be following that trend. Between 1986 and 2010, productivity at Hodbarrow averaged 0.49 chicks per pair. However the range over that period was from 0.00 to 1.32 chicks per pair. (JNCC and Collins New Nat.)

Maybe increasing protection at one site simply results in birds being poached from other sites, or it could give the birds more options following mass desertion due to predation elsewhere. Large exchanges of birds have certainly occurred in the past between Hodbarrow and other sites following predation events elsewhere.



Things haven't changed much! There are perhaps a few more birdwatchers about now although not many. Most appear to be locals. There are still no more facilities than what you describe which is part of the reason why I like the place so much.
Good to hear!
You're lucky to live so close to a site like that.

Last edited by pratincol : Friday 19th April 2019 at 16:41.
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Old Friday 19th April 2019, 08:33   #12
Farnboro John
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Originally Posted by andreadawn View Post
The number of birds nesting at any particular site varies considerably from year to year. Large numbers of birds often switch sites and mass desertion sometimes occurs due to predation events. Sandwich Terns also sometimes take a year off from breeding so it is difficult to make generalisations based on any one single year.

The overall UK breeding population seems to have been reasonably stable since the 1980s although it fluctuates substantially from year to year. There has however been a steady decline in productivity since 2000.

The productivity at Hodbarrow in 2018 appears to be following that trend. Between 1986 and 2010, productivity at Hodbarrow averaged 0.49 chicks per pair. However the range over that period was from 0.00 to 1.32 chicks per pair. (JNCC and Collins New Nat.)

Maybe increasing protection at one site simply results in birds being poached from other sites, or it could give the birds more options following mass desertion due to predation elsewhere. Large exchanges of birds have certainly occurred in the past between Hodbarrow and other sites following predation events.
Thank you very much. Interesting. In my mind your description creates an impression of a semi-nomadic population that keeps on the move to confound predators hoping for a regular food supply. I would guess that gulls are a significant predation factor even in large colonies isolated from land predators.

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