Hoping to tern the nesting fortunes of rare seabirds

An attacking tern on the Farne Islands. Picture by Jane Coltman
An attacking tern on the Farne Islands. Picture by Jane Coltman

A team of dedicated conservationists are working along the north Northumberland coast this summer to help improve the breeding success of one of the UK’s rarest seabirds.

These hardy souls are braving the British weather and forgoing creature comforts, to protect little terns as they attempt to nest on local beaches from Beadnell Bay to Lindisfarne.

Little terns return to the UK each spring from West Africa, but are finding it increasingly difficult to breed with only around 1,500 pairs nesting at fewer than 60 sites around the country.

Nesting on beaches, little terns are vulnerable to rising sea levels, high tides and predation. They can also be disturbed accidently by beach users who are unaware of their presence.

Wynona Legg is one of five National Trust assistant rangers who are providing 24-hour nest protection at the Long Nanny little tern colony near Beadnell.

“Little tern wardening is a very basic experience,” she said. “We are living here in a tent for three months so we’ve got no electricity or running water.

“However, it is well worth the hardship as we are living in a beautiful location looking after these amazing birds that desperately need a helping hand.”