21 Aug 2016

Ringing terns - Al Jarrim Island south (Bahrain)

On Friday 15 July I set off at 02:45 hrs to go to Bahrain to ring terns. I met up with Phil, Nicole, Brendan, Ali, Mahmood, Ahmed and Abdulqader to go out to the island at 04:00 to ring tern chicks. We went a few weeks later than normal due to Ramadan so the terns were larger than we normally handle but we had no problems with this. This is one of the best days ringing of the year for me and it is amazing to be on an island full of breeding terns. We arrived at the island at 06:00 hrs and set about first ringing Bridled Tern chicks. They nest under cover of the vegetation and are incredibly well camouflaged and sit tight so good eyesight and a lot of help are required. We do these first as it is extremely hard work and want to do it in the coolest part of the day before temperatures rise into the 40’s Celsius. There were four ringers and we ringed well over a hundred Bridled Tern chicks that was slightly less than normal.  After this we set up our corral to catch Lesser Crested Tern Chicks that are all gathered together in large crèches of baby terns with hundreds of adults looking after them. As they are all in large groups we walk the birds down into our corral and transfer them to large baskets for processing. We catch lots of birds in a short time and process them as quickly as possible so they can return to their normal activities. We keep the birds in covered baskets with a wet towel on top to keep them cool. We ringed 1000 Lesser Crested Tern chicks and ran out of rings, this being the biggest number of birds we have ringed in a single day since we started going to the islands. We finished earlier than normal due to the good number of ringers present and were back in Bahrain by 14:00 hrs. There were quite a few dead terns on the island with many young and some adults of both Bridled and Lesser Crested Terns. This indicates that the breeding season has not been as good as normal and although there were several hundred Bridled Terns and four to five thousand Lesser Crested Terns the numbers were down on previous years. We are uncertain as to why there were so many dead birds.
Bridled Tern
Bridled Tern
Bridled Tern
Bridled Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern

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