Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Island's Colony of Kittiwakes to Star in Their Own Movie

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Island's Colony of Kittiwakes to Star in Their Own Movie

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HENDERSON ENVIRONMENT

THEY are the star tern on a Northumberland island sanctuary as thousands of birds arrive to begin their breeding season.

The RSPB reserve of Coquet Island off Amble is home to the UK's sole colony of breeding roseate terns.

Last year the colony reached 111 pairs of nesting birds - the highest count since the 1970s.

But RSPB staff on the island decided this year that it was time to share the limelight around and so have filmed the reserve's growing kittiwake community.

The first pair of kittiwakes nested on Coquet Island in 1991. Last year the number totalled 326 pairs.

While the inland Gateshead-Newcastle kittiwake colony was at the centre of controversy this year after anti-nesting spikes were found on the listed tower of the Tyne Bridge, the Coquet birds breed without interference on an island where the public is not allowed to land.

Kittiwake colony populations are dropping steeply in Scotland.

"They have lost tens of thousands of pairs over recent decades so the Coquet Island colony is bucking the trend," says assistant warden Wesley Davies.

"With the Farne Islands and Tyne colony also doing well, we are lucky on the North East coast."

Last year the island also hosted 300 pairs of breeding eider ducks, 1,160 pairs of common terns, 1,471 Arctic terns, 1,624 sandwich terns and 13,000 pairs of puffins.

The roseate terns enjoy deluxe accommodation in the shape of more than 200 nesting box "houses", which protect the eggs and young from the bad weather and predators.

The birds return to "their" particular box each year so they are numbered to allow wardens to site them in the same spot each spring. Coquet Island staff will be taking part in a Creative Conservation week at the Baltic arts centre in Gateshead.

It will run through the half-term week of May 30-June 5, and will feature a live film feed from the roseate tern colony, plus the Baltic's own nesting kittiwakes.

Artist Louise Bradley will lead bird-related art activities for families each day and there will be a selection of RSPB films.

| The Northumberland Little Tern Project is looking for volunteers to protect vulnerable nesting shorebirds this summer. …

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