Rollercoaster season for Long Nanny little terns

This season has been a bit of a rollercoaster at the Long Nanny tern site. There have been several ups and downs, but the site seems to be doing well at the moment as the rangers work hard to look after the colony of nesting shorebirds.

There were low numbers of all species on site at the start of season, with only 14 pairs of little terns nesting originally. The birds had just settled into the new season and many were happily sitting on eggs when the the first set of spring high tides hit in late May. This had a massive impact on site, washing away at least 200 Arctic tern eggs. The little tern nests were already raised onto fishing crates and pallets but still needed to be rescued several times. One tide washed away most of the site and found the team wading into the sea to rescue fishing crates and pallets. Seven pallets ended up on the other side of the burn and the team spent a manic hour rescuing the various bits of site and rapidly rebuilding all the nests before carefully replacing the eggs. After several days of being battered by tides and a period of poor weather afterwards, we were left with only three little tern nests at the Long Nanny.

After a weeks break many of the pairs started to lay new nests and more birds appeared bringing the site to a peak count of 38 little tern nests and a full count of the site recorded 1800 Arctic tern nests

Poor weather and another set of spring tides means we have lost a few nests since, but at the moment the site is doing well.

There are 24 little tern nests and 11 chicks, most newly hatched. Our first Arctic fleglings have been seen and so far two ringed plover fledglings have been spotted. So despite a number of predators and patches of poor weather some of the chicks are making it through the precarious few weeks before they can fly.

We all have our fingers crossed that the rest of the season goes well!

A Little Tern on the hut roof at the Long Nanny near Low Newton, on the Northumberland Coast

Little Terns return to the Long Nanny

For nine months of the year, the site blends into the vast stretch of unspoilt beach that is Beadnell Bay, but as May arrives thousands of birds arrive on site for the start of the three month breeding season.