Little terns settle in again at Long Nanny following preparation work

The Long Nanny site near Beadnell. Picture by Kevin Redgrave.
The Long Nanny site near Beadnell. Picture by Kevin Redgrave.

It is the start of another season for a breeding colony of little terns and other shorebirds on the Northumberland coast.

Little terns are the UK’s second rarest seabird with only around 1,500 breeding pairs in the UK.

The terns have travelled 4,000 miles from West Africa and have just started to arrive at the National Trust’s Long Nanny site at Beadnell Bay, where they have a 24-hour watch.

They are joining the pairs of ringed plover, which have been spotted on site since mid-March, as well as thousands of Arctic terns.

Although for the birds the season is just beginning, National Trust rangers have already spent months preparing for their arrival.

Countryside manager Gwen Potter said: “We have been creating additional nesting areas on site as nests are threatened by spring tides throughout the season. With the permission of Natural England, we are managing areas of vegetation on site and using decoy birds to give birds the opportunity to nest further away from the high tide line.

“We have also been working with a team of volunteers to improve the fencing on site over the winter. We are hoping that an improved fence line, along with new 21st century detection and deterrent equipment such as night scopes and lasers, will enhance the level of protection at the colony.”

At the start of May, a new team of five National Trust Rangers will be joining the colony. Taking up the challenge of spending three months living in a tent, they will be protecting the colony and welcoming visitors.

The conservation work being done by The National Trust is part of a wider project supported by EU LIFE+ and is a partnership between the RSPB, Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, National Trust and Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.

The Long Nanny tern site is also supported by the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign.

People can see the birds from the viewing platform. Dogs are welcome too, but must be kept on a lead.