Visitors to the Northumberland coast asked to give nesting shorebirds a wide berth

Wildlife rangers have called on residents and visitors to help protect nesting shorebirds on the Northumberland coast.

By Ian Smith
Thursday, 29th April 2021, 10:48 am
Updated Monday, 3rd May 2021, 9:51 pm

Spring sees purple sandpiper, sanderling and turnstone leaving local shores for their arctic breeding grounds, while other species like curlew and golden plover head inland to the hills to breed.

Other species migrate thousands of miles to come to nest on Northumberland beaches; global travellers like arctic terns that have spent the winter travelling the southern oceans, and little terns which have wintered in west Africa.

The most widespread shore-nesting species on the Northumberland coast is the ringed plover.

Visitors to the Northumberland coast are being asked to help protect nesting shorebirds.

Sometimes overlooked because of its small size this species is in decline across the country, with a 52% decline recorded in the past 25 years and as such it is a species which is red listed for conservation concern.

Like many ground-nesting birds it is a species which is vulnerable to disturbance and predation during the nesting season.

Wildlife rangers at Space for Shorebirds, Northumberland County Council’s scheme to protect the birds and dunes of the coast, are now busy with the final preparations for the shorebird nesting season, creating small fenced off nesting refuges.

Senior wildlife ranger Richard Willis said: “At the time when our beaches are becoming busy with day trippers and holidaymakers ringed plovers are coming here to breed, so they need a helping hand in the form of nesting refuges to give them space to nest and raise their chicks.

A ringed plover. Picture: Tom Cadwallender

“The good news is that people can help whilst still enjoying their visit or holiday to the Northumberland coast, by looking out for wildlife and giving the birds space.

“The ringed plover nest protection areas will be clearly signposted. By giving those areas a wide berth, residents and visitors can help the chances of these great little birds being able to nest and raise a family this year.”

Space for Shorebird rangers would like to thank the Coast Care volunteers and local residents who are taking part in its ringed plover survey this year.

It is also hoped that in time nesting little tern could be attracted to the nesting refuges.

Richard added: “There is real need to increase the number of nesting sites so that the population is more robust and less vulnerable to events such as a high spring tides, predation and disturbance.”

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