NPWS urge members of the public to take care at bird colony in Wexford Harbour
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 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, even for short periods.
The Little Terns appear to be concentrated on the Fort Bank off the main harbour channel this year. It’s estimated that 50 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 Dominic Berridge said:
“The Little Terns’ eggs and chicks look like seashells on the beach, so anyone could easily trample on them.
“The number of birds using Wexford Harbour has been very significant over the last few 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. Last year we had at least a hundred pairs of Little Terns in the colony but we were disappointed later when there were only ten or fifteen chicks seen to grow up. The reasons were probably wind and high tides washing over parts of the sandbanks and destroying nests. These birds breed under really tough conditions and we will all have to be careful not to add to their problems by disturbing them”.