Long Nanny Tern Colony

After a great day in the Farne Islands yesterday, we decided to explore some of the Northumbrian coast near to our B&B in Seahouses. We had heard about a tern colony at a National Trust Reserve called Long Nanny. Not only were the Arctic terns there but there is a breeding colony of Little terns as well. Neither of us had seen Little terns before so we headed down. Parking in the Newton Links House car park, we climbed the path, over the dunes and were presented with this view!….


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This site is pretty special as it has one of the very few breeding colonies of Little terns, which are on the amber list. Little terns nest on sandy beaches and, thus, are very prone to disturbance and pollution. Around 40 pairs nest on a sandy inlet here and, although that does not sound like many, it is a significant 2% of the UK population.


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This means Long Nanny is a nationally important reserve for this sensitive species. The site employ 5 rangers who care for and monitor this site throughout the breeding season. Living on site in tents and operating a 24 hr watch over the site, they aim to inform the public, monitor all the nesting sites, protect the birds and eggs from predators where possible and generally try to ensure that s many chicks are raised as possible. Since the site is on a very flat area, the area is very prone to flooding by Spring tides and stormy weather. If this is forecast, these amazing wardens raise the nesting sites up onto crates filled with sand!! They have even done this in the dark, with head torches rescuing lots of fragile chicks from drowning!

The sensitive areas are all roped off and there is a small Rangers Hut that you can view the Little tern colony from. Deb and I chatted to two lovely young rangers and looked at the Little Terns through their scope. We could not get close enough to photograph and they are Schedule 1 birds, so photography at the nest site would only be allowed with a permit.


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In front of the hut were numerous Arctic terns and a few Ringed plovers as well..


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From the Rangers hut, we had lovely views of the Arctic terns and I was able to practise my flight photography again!


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