The National Parks and Wildlife Service has urged members of the public not to enter a bird colony in Wexford Harbour where Little Terns have recently settled to nest.
The chances of chicks successfully hatching can be greatly diminished if they are disturbed by people, according to NPWS ranger Tony Murray.
Having nested on the Fort Bank and the sand banks off Rosslare Point last year, the Little Terns appear to be concentrated on the Fort Bank off the main Wexford Harbour channel this year.
It is estimated that 50 pairs are sitting on eggs which should hatch shortly. The chicks take to the air about three weeks after hatching. The NPWS has put up temporary signs asking people not to enter the colony so that the chicks have the best possible chance of survival.
'The Little Terns's eggs and chicks look like seashells on the beach so anyone could easily trample on them,' said Mr. Murray. 'The last time a colony was located here, the birds failed to breed due to disturbance by people entering the breeding area. Dogs pose an even bigger danger so we are urging dog owners to take particular care.'
'The number of birds using Wexford Harbour has been very significant over the past two years, making this one of the biggest colonies of Little Terns in Ireland. We hope that, with the cooperation of the public, hundreds of chicks will successful hatch in the coming weeks,' he said.