Ravens at Tramore

For at least ten years Ravens have bred at the low cliffs at the south end of Tramore on the Carrickalahagh headland.

Raven Nest at Tramore Sept 2011

Raven Nest at Tramore Sept 2011

This year I monitored the nest for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Nest Record Scheme (NRS). The NRS involves repeated visits to check nest contents and thus gathers data on laying dates, clutch sizes and productivity. Currently the NRS welcomes data from throughout Ireland. More details can be found here…

http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nrs

On 9th March, when I first visited the Raven nest this year, there were five eggs present and the female was incubating with the male not far away.

The nest on 9th March. Five eggs present.

The nest on 9th March. Five eggs present. Compare with photo below.

Later that month there were still five eggs present but they had been slightly rearranged by the incubating female. Interestingly she had also removed a large stick from the nest. Compare the photos above and below to spot the difference!

The nest on 23rd March. Still five eggs present - near hatching! Note the missing stick and the rearranged eggs.

The nest on 23rd March. Still five eggs present – near hatching! Note the missing stick and the rearranged eggs.

My parents visited the nest the next month. On 19th April, looking into the nest from below, they saw the bills of at least two chicks poking out above the rim. Unfortunately by 23rd April there was a dead chick lying on the beach at the foot of the nest. It’s difficult to say what happened as the adult birds would be unlikely to eject a youngster.

On my next visit on 17th May there were three large and healthy looking fledglings on and around the nest. At my approach they flew away a short distance. The adult male and female were also present.

We can conclude then, that this year, at least four out of five raven eggs hatched and at least three young fledged successfully.

The NRS has guidelines for finding and monitoring nests which should be adhered to by anybody visiting nest sites. I kept my time at the nest to an absolute minimum and tried to disturb the birds as little as possible. Ravens are clever and adaptable birds and over the years they might have got used to walkers on the beach, however it would be best to give the nest site a wide berth during the breeding season (Feb-May).

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