Success on the Northumberland Coast for UK’s second rarest seabird

The five assistant National Trust rangers have just closed down the Long Nanny shorebird site on the Northumberland coast. It has been the most successful season for little tern fledglings since 1990, with 54 little terns successfully leaving the site to start their migration.

On the 8 August 2019, our five Long Nanny assistant rangers packed up their tents and moved off site. They, along with all our amazing volunteers, should be feeling very proud of themselves as this year saw a staggering 54 little tern chicks fledge from the site. The combination of low predation, good weather, the creation of a high spit over the winter and some very diligent rangers watching out for the colony, led to the most successful year for fledglings since 1990. A minimum of 34 pairs onsite gave us a productivity of 1.59 (the number of chicks fledged per pair) which is the highest since 1985. We are all thrilled with these results and it is wonderful to think of our Long Nanny fledglings undertaking the long migration to West Africa.

Unfortunately our Arctic terns had a trickier year with a number of unexpected deaths; however a peak number of 400 fledglings were counted roosting on the beach which is similar to last year. This number must be taken with a pinch of salt as there were most likely a great deal more fledglings, but due to the majority of the colony not being visible to the rangers and the high mobility of the chicks, it is impossible for the rangers to accurately count fledglings.

Ringed plovers also had a good year with a minimum number of six pairs fledging nine chicks; again is likely that more fledged as most of the nests hatched successfully.  12 nesting attempts were made with 25 chicks hatching, only three chicks were known to be lost but because of the high mobility of the chicks it can’t be said for certain what happened to the 13 remaining. Nine of the chicks were recorded as fledged as they were seen with their flight feathers well developed and then roosting with the adults on the beach.

We would like to thank all of the visitors for their support and interest, the running of the site relies on donations and raffle ticket sales and people have been generous. Our dedicated team of volunteers (John, Allan, Sheila, Ian, Alan, Margaret and Dave) have provided the rangers with vital support, and visitors with information; we wouldn’t be able to run the site without them. Lastly our rangers (Fey, Tom, Nick, Sally and Ells) have done a fantastic job and have proved to be a dedicated and hardy team; braving storms, high tides, cold weather, hot weather and a fair few assaults from disgruntled arctic terns. A huge thank you to them all.

If you would like more information you can call the ranger office on 01665 576 874 or email northumberlandcoast@nationaltrust.org.uk