Friday, 16 October 2015

The Long Nanny Breeding Season

Winter seems to be upon us here on the coast and as we welcome the arrival of our wintering birds, the ranger team have been reflecting on the summer breeding season.

The Terns that breed on the Long Nanny site near Beadnell had a difficult season. After the first egg was laid on the 18th of May, unseasonable weather, strong tides and a good number of predators led to heavy losses for some species. The stoat and her kittens were the dominant predator, remaining throughout the season and causing breeding Terns to abandon entire areas of the site despite the rangers’ best efforts to protect them.

© National Trust

Arctic Terns had a tough year, raising only 40-50 fledglings. This may have contributed to the dramatic inter-species conflict that occurred between Little Terns and Arctic Terns; with Arctic Terns observed attacking and killing Little Tern chicks; most likely resulting from the loss of their own broods.

Despite this the 27 pairs of Little Terns were successful in fledging a minimum of 14 chicks and Ringed Plovers, who also breed on the Long Nanny spit, raised between 12 and 17 fledglings.

© National Trust
The site was finally collapsed on the 3rd August assisted by a willing team of volunteers helping to bring in hundreds of metres of rope and electric fencing that had been protecting the Terns while they had been breeding on the beach. After a few days, the only signs that we were ever there is the hut, which remains throughout the winter, and the bare patches in the dunes where the rangers’ tents were pitched.

© Jane Lancaster

We would like to say a massive thank you to the team of rangers and volunteers who were essential in the protection of these delicate birds as they monitored the site 24/7, working in all weathers. The rangers also welcomed visitors to the site, answering questions and pointing out the different breeding bird species. They were also instrumental in informing beach-goers about the reason for the restricted access at certain points on the beach (reinforced with fencing and signs) and to explain to dog-walkers the importance of keeping their dog at heel or on the lead when near the terns.

© Victoria Knight

The National Trust’s Long Nanny Tern site is part of the EU LIFE Little Tern project, which is a partnership of organisations working together to ensure the Little Tern’s long-term future! Although our Terns have finished breeding and left for their wintering grounds, if you are interested in volunteering with us next year to protect these special birds please email the National Trust:

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