Well that's us all packed up for another season - fences are in and signs are down. Chantal - project co-ordinator for Northumberland Little Tern Project has put together a summary of the season below:
Just as the summer is almost over, the shorebird breeding season is coming to an end. Those who have been lucky enough to visit the beaches this summer;relax, walk their dog and enjoy having a wander may have seen shorebirds such as ringed plovers and oystercatchers nesting on the sand.
However humans are not the only visitors that gather at that time! Several tern species (including Arctic and Common terns) make the journey back to the UK from their wintering grounds to breed and nest on our beaches. Among them is the charismatic ‘Little Tern’ (Sternula albifrons) which are the second rarest breeding seabird in the UK. Aptly named, they are no bigger than a blackbird; however they make a lengthy journey every April travelling up from their wintering grounds of South and West coast of Africa to the UK.
It has been a difficult season this year with low recruitment of some species like our rare little tern, the second rarest seabird to breed in the UK of which there are only 45 pairs in Northumberland. However all shorebirds are affected by predation, erosion, tides, disturbance and especially at the start of this summer: the cold weather.
|One of our rarest shorebirds the Little Tern nests along the Northumberland Coast.|
Although breeding shorebirds are anywhere on the beache, this year, potential sites were cordoned off with fencing. A variety of fencing was used to make for optimum success. Approximately 2.5km of blue exterior rope was used in addition to 1km or electric wire and 1.5km mesh netting. Electric fencing is a good defence in preventing mammalian predators such as foxes, but the blue exterior fencing has worked very well in warning beach-users from walking too close to the scrapes and disturbing the incubating birds of eggs/chicks, thus reducing the risk of nest failure due to exposure.
|Wardens have been out on the beach all summer speaking to the public and monitoring shorebirds|
In addition, 40 information signs as well as Shorebird leaflets were placed at access points to beaches informing the public of the summer restrictions and presence of breeding shorebirds. One of the main signs focused on asking people to keep their dogs on a lead to avoid disturbing breeding birds in both the dunes and on the beaches.
|Our Shorebird leaflet available to download on the blog|
Over the summer we have had a hardworking team of Shorebird Wardens and volunteers who have been both observing shorebirds and engage the public. They have been either on-site informing people about the reasons for shorebird decline or at events such as ‘Shorebird Celebration.’
We also had an engaging end of season discussion between staff and volunteers from both Lindisfarne NNR and the National Trust discussing the success of shorebirds across Northumberland.
As the season is now over, we can now say that with all of these contributions, the shorebirds breeding season has resulted in high productivity, with good numbers of Common, Arctic and Little terns and average numbers for ringed plovers.
For anyone who would be interested in joining our numbers and protecting our rare little terns & other important shorebirds next summer, please get in contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Fencing all cleaned off and ready to be stored for next year.|