RTE Nationwide to Visit Balbriggan Community College

April 23, 2012 0

Niall Martin of the RTE Nationwide team is due to film and report on Balbriggan Community Colleges involvement with the Rockabill Roseate Tern Conservation Project. The project began in 1989 under the joint efforts of Birdwatch Ireland and National Parks and Wildlife Service. balbriggan_community_college_nest_boxes_rockabill_2Birdwatch Ireland has monitored, placed wardens and co-ordinated the project every year.

Balbriggan Community College became involved from 1995 onwards through the provision of specialised nestboxes that have made an huge contribution to the success of the project.

Three woodwork teachers, Mr Harford, Mr Macken and Jim Boylan and numerous students have constructed close on 1000 nestboxes for the project.

The Fingal Branch of Birdwatch Ireland has sponsored the costs of the materials for the nestboxes every year.

The Roseate Tern breeding numbers have risen from a serious low of 150 pairs in 1989 to over 1,000 pairs in 2011.

balbriggan_community_college_nest_boxes_rockabill_6The nestboxes provide safe nesting places, cover from bad weather for the newly hatched chicks and security from predation from various Gull species. The boxes will be transported out to Rockabill during the first two weeks of May.

The terns depart in April from their wintering grounds in West Africa, mainly Ghana, arriving on our coasts in May, 6000km in one month. The majority come to Irish sea. The terns traditionally nest under the cover of Tree Mallow, but there’s not enough nesting space under the Tree Mallows … so nest boxes allow more breeding pairs.

Scientists collect the vital research data:

  • nest box identity numbers
  • hatch date
  • number of chicks
  • record of weight & size
  • frequency & type of food
  • & each chick given a unique ring number

balbriggan_community_college_nest_boxes_rockabill_5Nest boxes are a major success and the number of breeding pairs shows steady annual increase.

A big well done to the students and teachers at Balbriggan Community College for their involvement in this project which has seen the Roseate Tern breeding numbers rising from a serious low of 150 pairs in 1989 to over 1,000 pairs in 2011.