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9th June 2022 – Long Nanny tern colony, Northumberland

The tern colony of little terns and Arctic terns at Long Nanny on the Northumberland coast are guarded 24/7 by rangers of the National Trust each summer.

24 hour protection for the terns

“They have had mixed results in recent years and fared particularly badly during COVID lockdown when the rangers were unable to be there to protect them. The Arctic tern, which has the longest migration of any bird in the world, started breeding at Long Nanny in 1980 and has returned every year from Antarctica to nest. The little tern is one of the UK’s smallest seabirds, weighing roughly the same as a tennis ball. They feed mostly on sand eels and young herring and tend to lay between one and three camouflaged eggs on the beach. The little tern has been in serious decline since the 1980s, with fewer than 2,000 breeding pairs now left in the UK.” (National Trust website)

Arctic tern

Arctic tern

Arctic tern

Terns disturbed by a kestrel

Rangers counting little terns on the beach

In the last couple of years they have been joined by a summering American Black Tern – Britain’s first record of an adult in summer plumage.

American black tern

American black tern

We reached Long Nanny by walking behind the dunes at Newton Links. The display of spring flowers was beautiful and we enjoyed good views of sky larks, linnets, stonechats, reed buntings and even avocets and oystercatchers on the river.

Spring flowers on Newton Links

Spring flowers

Sky lark

Linnets

Reed bunting

Avocets and oystercatchers on the river

We returned along the beach enjoying the best of the Northumberland coast.

The deserted beach

Access to the beach

Low Newton by the sea where we had lunch at the Ship Inn

Dunstanburgh Castle

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