Dramatic start to season for colony of rare little terns

A little tern and its chick. Picture by Jane Lancaster
A little tern and its chick. Picture by Jane Lancaster

It’s been a dramatic start to the season for a colony of little terns on the north Northumberland Coast.

The terns, which nest every year on the National Trust’s Long Nanny site one kilometre south of Beadnell Bay, have had to cope with stormy spring weather and two weasels determined to steal their eggs.

But thanks to a turn in the weather and the rangers who work around the clock to protect them, it seems their fortunes may be changing.

On Friday, National Trust coastal ranger, Jane Lancaster, said: “The Long Nanny site now has 11 little tern pairs brooding eggs and indeed the first little tern eggs hatched this morning.

“We’ve counted 53 little terns so for on the site so we’re very hopeful that the other 31 will now pair up, prepare scrapes and brood eggs. Fingers crossed we’ll have fifteen more scrapes before the end of the season.”

Last month, a new team of five angers took up the challenge of spending three months living in a tent to protect the colony and to welcome visitors to the site.

Vicky Knight, assistant ranger, said: “We all get on really well and feel privileged to be contributing to the recovery of the species even if all of the thanks we get is a peck on the head and a poop on the jacket!”

Little terns are the UK’s second rarest seabird with only around 1,500 breeding pairs returning from West Africa each year. The conservation work is part of a wider project supported by EU LIFE+,