Dramatic beginning for Long Nanny Little Terns

It’s been a dramatic start to the season for a colony of Little Terns on the Northumberland Coast.

The Terns, which nest every year on the National Trust’s Long Nanny site 1km south of Beadnell bay, have had to cope with stormy spring weather and two weasel determined to steal their eggs.

But thanks to a turn in the weather and the Rangers who work around the clock to protect them, it seems their fortunes may be changing.

National Trust Coastal Ranger, Jane Lancaster, said:

“The Long Nanny site now has 11 Little Tern pairs brooding eggs, and indeed the first Little Tern eggs hatched this morning. We’ve counted 53 Little Terns so for on the site so we’re very hopeful that the other 31 will now pair up, prepare scrapes and brood eggs. Fingers crossed we’ll have fifteen more scrapes before the end of the season”

“In addition to Little Terns the site is an important breeding colony for Arctic Terns, often referred to as Sea Swallows because of their long migrations and elegant tail streamers. There are currently over 2000 pairs of these charismatic birds present at the site which is quite a wildlife spectacle.”

In May, a new team of five National Trust Rangers took up the unique challenge of spending three months living in a tent in order to protect the colony and to welcome visitors to the site.

Vicky Knight, Assistant Ranger, said:

“We all get on really well and feel privileged to be contributing to the recovery of the species even if all of the thanks we get is a peck on the head and a poop on the jacket!”

Little Terns are the UK’s second rarest seabird with only around 1500 breeding pairs returning from West Africa each year. The conservation work being done by The National Trust to protect these very special seabirds at Long Nanny is part of a wider project supported by EU LIFE+ and is a partnership between the RSPB, Northumberland AONB, National Trust and Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.

The Long Nanny tern site is also supported by the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign, a fundraising campaign set up 50 years ago to specifically to protect our coastline.

Jane continued:

“The Long Nanny site is 1km south of Beadnell on the beach and visitors are very welcome to come along and have a chat with National Trust Rangers and view the birds from the viewing platform. The team are on hand seven days a week until late July. Although we do ask people to please keep their dogs on leads and follow the diversion signs from the beach to the Rangers hut.”

Image credit – Jane Lancaster