We have had an exhausting four days at our colony in Eccles. We have been visited by avian predators in the form of kestrel, hobby and black-headed gull. We even had a brief visit from an escaped falcon complete with bells and jesses. We are just about managing to deter the kestrel which has been a long-standing predator of little terns as Eccles. Kestrels will only take small chicks from within the electric fence and we are not alone in trying to scare it away. Little terns will rise up en masse and ‘mob’ the kestrel until it is out of sight. However, the hobby is an altogether different creature. Like the little tern it is a summer migrant to Britain and is a relatively late breeder - timing the hatching of its eggs to mid-July when there is plentiful food around in the form of swallows and swifts. Our hobby has recently discovered an alternative in the little tern (it is known, after all, as a ‘sea swallow’). In four days it has taken an adult little tern mid-air, two large chicks from within the electric fence and more alarmingly a four-week old fledgling from the foreshore within 10 metres of a warden. No little tern, whatever their age, is safe. Adults do not fear a kestrel but they do fear the hobby and they do not mob it. Last week they were diving into the sea to escape its attacks. The unpredictability and frequency of their visits is physically exhausting on the wardens (we chase them up and down the beach, shouting as we go) and the loss of life is emotionally draining. We are on constant alert to the next visit and never know from which direction it will come. But we are so close to fledging the whole colony we are putting in extra hours each day and foregoing all our days off. Photo credit: Mick Davis.