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Friday, 13 July 2018

Maharees Little Terns fledge

Juvenile Little Tern, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

The extraordinary run of good weather this summer in Kerry has meant greater than usual numbers of human visitors to the Maharee islands. Fortunately, this does not seem to have deterred the nesting terns. 6 to 7 pairs of Little Tern were seen to be nesting back in May and early June and today it was a relief to see at least 5-6 fledged juveniles flying about the island, harassing their parents for food.

Juvenile Little Tern, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Tern chicks, immediately after leaving the nest and for their first few months of life, are smaller than their parents. Not that they are literally smaller in a body sense, rather the tail feathers and particularly the primary feathers don't quite match the true length of adult birds. Short-tailed and blunt-winged. So while adult Little Terns do indeed seem little, their offspring, after fledging, seem tiny.

Arctic Tern, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

The main two Arctic Tern colonies are still at chick stage, with no chicks yet fully fledged. Small numbers of adult Common Terns were also still attending their near-grown chicks. Another week or so and most chicks should be flying.

First-summer Arctic Tern, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

This young bird is not a fledgling from this year, rather this immature bird was hatched last summer, has been to the Southern Hemisphere and back, and is hopefully checking out a new nest site for when it is ready to breed next summer. After going down south and back again.

Black Guillemot, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Juvenile Common Gull, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).