Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Life as a ranger at the Long Nanny Tern Site

It is nearly the end of season and time has flown by at The Long Nanny Tern Site. As we get ready to pack up the site, Ptolemy one of the assistant rangers reflects on life at the site.

"The role has been a fantastic opportunity and has had some lows but plenty of highs. Every day is different, with speaking to the wide range of people who visit the viewing platform to see the terns, monitoring disturbances, feeding surveys and site management. The best bit has been watching the terns progress throughout the season. Many Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) chicks are now fledging and fingers are crossed for the little terns (Sternula albifrons) that fledglings ready to head to West Africa are seen on site.

An Arctic tern protecting the tern garden  © Ptolemy McKinnon

The job has certainly kept us on our feet. Kestrel and weasels have been on site which has meant lots of running and chasing to ensure the safety of the little terns. Many days have been spent sprinting around through marram and on sand. Unfortunately, there have been casualties as expected, but to see chicks nearing fledging helps keep the rangers smiling.
Monitoring on the Little Terns has been great fun. We carry out feeding surveys when possible, recording the type of fish being brought in by adults and the size. It seems that this year is a good year for sandeels and watching the chicks being fed is rewarding. With a big interest in ornithology, it is a pleasure to watch them and see some of the behaviour of the species. However trying to understand either the little or Arctic terns leaves many a ranger confused.
Sunrise from the viewing platform © Ptolemy McKinnon
To be in a location which is at least a 20 minute walk away from any shop and living on site has made it interesting, but we have all enjoyed the tent life. Waking up on a morning to hear and see the terns is a sight to behold. Putting up fencing, placing tern shelters and other jobs around the site have all been worth it to see the site functioning to protect the little terns, Arctic terns and ringed plovers.

It has been a fantastic season and even though living in a tent for three months sounds horrible for many, it has been a joy and hopefully the rest of the spell on site continues in the same vein."

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