Hello! I’m Cara, one of the tern Protection Assistants at Hodbarrow, back again for my third year looking after the colony. There has been a lot of work done while I’ve been away, extending the island and creating more space for nesting and two additional lagoons have been created on either side of the island. The oystercatchers have really taken to the bank at the back of the left hand one. The anti-predator fence that keeps the foxes at bay has been repaired and extra struts have been put in to help keep it up during stormy weather. It’s doing the trick so far!  In addition to this, posts have been put in place for the otter fence, due to their presence on the island last year. This year if they are spotted, we will be able to compartmentalise sections of the island, depending on where the terns are nesting in order to protect the colony.

As is often the case in March and it’s been very wet and blustery but there’s already been plenty to look at while I waited on the return of the terns. Peak wader counts the past week have been 460 redshank, 67 lapwing, 200 oystercatchers, 7 ringed plover, 10 turnstone, 10 snipe with black tailed godwits, dunlin and a curlew dropping by occasionally.

There have been lots of lovely ducks around with up to 30 eider, 16 goldeneye, 40 teal, wigeon, gadwall, tufted ducks and some smart shovelers. Little and great crested grebes are also seen daily and two pairs of great crested grebes have been displaying.

Black headed gull numbers started off low with none seen at all on the island until 13th March, unlike last year where they were seen from the very start of March. Numbers have been building since and we’ve had a peak count of 760 so far, although this included a lot of first winter birds that won’t be breeding this year. We got our first sandwich terns on 26th with a peak count of 147, not far off the couple of hundred we had this time last year. In a couple of weeks we should have our first common and little terns, I’ll be on the lookout!