Monday, 20 March 2017

The Extremes of Predator Proofing

Every season the rangers at the Long Nanny tern site battle a variety of predators in their attempt to protect the birds that nest there. Each year is different and at one point or another, the site has suffered at the hands of most shorebird predators. For the last two seasons stoat predation has had a large impact on the productivity of the colony and despite a lot of chasing and head-long trips over Marram tussocks, ranger activity has done little to deter them.

Volunteers constructing the fence
We have been slowly improving our fencing on site to protect against mammalian predators. Work in 2016 seemed to have an effect on larger mammal predation and this year we have started to experiment with fencing against smaller mammals. Our team of volunteers have had to get creative and we have come up with a chicken wire fence line, with fold over top to stop climbing. It may not be stoat proof but we hope it will at least be a deterrent (and a learning curve for the rangers).

The constantly evolving fence line

We are also trying to improve our equipment on site to increase visibility during night shifts and have even contemplated scare crows to reduce fox predation. In the calm of pre-season preparations it all seems a bit bizarre, but as soon as June arrives and the predators become apparent, in depth conversations about how reflective a scare crows eyes should be and whether playing Radio 1 or Radio 4 is a greater deterrent become as common as commenting on the weather (which we do a lot of as well!).

The Long Nanny tern site will start on the 5th of May and visitors are welcome to come to the viewing platform and take part in some of these strange conversations with the rangers. We do ask that all dogs are kept on leads and that diversion signs from the beach are followed to prevent disturbing the nesting birds.


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