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Common Terns Ringing at Little Marlow GP

It has been a successful breeding season for the Common Terns so far, at Little Marlow Gravel Pit.  Five rafts were launched on 24th April and moored together in the SW of the lake.  Ten or so pairs eventually took up residence and as a group fended off a variety of potential dangers including Herons, Buzzards, Red Kites and a variety of Gulls. Birders watching from he bank were lucky if they could count 10 or so individual young, however today (24th June) the actual number was discovered when the young were ringed by local ringer Mick McQuaid.  One well grown young bird actually flew from the rafts as Mick approached.  Two other young jumped ship, one of which swam to the shore and was retrieved, ringed and returned to the rafts (the other was looked after by the adult birds).   Twenty one were ringed and six were left un-ringed as they were too small to ring.  Sadly there were eight dead chicks on the rafts, which may have been due to the torrential rain that we experienced this week. There were also two unhatched eggs.   So the grand total is of thirty-nine eggs laid, thirty-seven chicks hatched and twenty-nine still surviving on the ringing day.  Hopefully they will all manage to fly from the rafts successfully.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

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Mick collecting the young from the rafts.

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A ring being placed on the leg of one youngster.

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The ring being tightened.

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One of the swimmers drying off.

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Mick returning from the rafts after completing the ringing. The adults were back feeding the young within five minutes of this.