Volunteers needed to help vulnerable birds

A voluntary warden talking to a visitor about the terns at Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.
A voluntary warden talking to a visitor about the terns at Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.

Volunteers are needed to help protect and monitor vulnerable shorebirds nesting along the coast this summer.

A partnership of conservation organisations – the Northumberland Coast AONB, Natural England and the National Trust – is looking for enthusiastic people to keep an eye on endangered little terns, Arctic terns and ringed plovers.

Little terns spend their winter on the west coast of Africa and return to our coastline at the end of April. These rare birds lays eggs on the beach and are very susceptible to human disturbance, as well as predation and high tides, which can wash away their nests.

In Northumberland, little terns mainly nest on the National Trust Long Nanny site in Beadnell Bay and Natural England’s Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (NNR), which stretches from Budle Bay in the south to Cheswick Black Rocks in the north.

Katherine Dunsford, lead shorebird warden at Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, will recruit, train and support the volunteers working with shorebirds.

She said: “Together with the team of wardens, shorebird volunteers will talk to beach users to prevent them from accidently disturbing the birds.This makes a huge difference to the breeding success of these small visitors.

“We are looking for passionate nature enthusiasts who enjoy talking to people and spending time along the beautiful Northumberland coast.”

The other shorebird species of concern is the ringed plover, which also lays eggs on the beach.

Numbers of breeding ringed plovers have dramatically declined and this year conservationists are asking volunteers to carry out a survey of the whole Northumberland coast to get a better idea of how many birds there are and which areas are important for them.

Iain Robson, from the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, said: “There is over 70 miles of coastline to survey so we are absolutely reliant on volunteers to help us – we couldn’t do it without them.”

Anyone interested in protecting and monitoring terns at the breeding colonies or surveying sections of the coast for ringed plovers can contact Becky at Coast Care on 07813 563047 or email becky@coast-care.co.uk

Full training will be provided for all volunteers and a training session will be held in Seahouses on Monday, April 1, at 2pm.