Birdwatch News Archive
The Blakeney Point Sandwich Tern colony has had its best year ever. Photo: Ajay Tegala (Seasonal Ranger, Blakeney Point, National Trust).
A tern for the better
Posted on: 05 Sep 2012
In contrast to the bad news from many seabird colonies around the British coast, the Sandwich Terns on Blakeney Point had a remarkable breeding season this year.
Sandwich Terns on Blakeney Point, Norfolk, produced 2200 chicks from 3735 nests this summer. This comes after a horrendous decline 12 years ago, when no more than 26 young were produced from a pitiful maximum of 75 nests. Numbers have fortunately climbed, with the average recent productivity since being about 900 young from 2,500 nests, a healthy number from the species' apparently risky ground-nesting breeding strategy, as previously reported in Birdwatch.
A Sandwich Tern chick safe in the protected are of Blakeney NNR. Photo: Ajay Tegala (
Seasonal Ranger, Blakeney Point
This success has meant that Blakeney Point, which is within the National Trust's Blakeney NNR, has yet again supported more than 30 per cent of the breeding British Sandwich Tern population.
The figures come as a result of a carefully planned minimum disturbance count in late May, by which time most birds should have laid eggs. Schedule One licensed rangers carefully marked each nest with a small piece of dried macaroni from bags with a known count inside. The method was suggested by former warden and artist James McCallum, also an occasional Birdwatch contributor, whose new book on Blakeney Point will be available at the end of this year, accompanied by an exhibition.
The shingle and sand dunes of the western tip of Blakeney Point also holds important colonies of Little Tern, and with the addition of Common and Arctic Tern, this makes it one of the best sites for terns in Britain. Terns from the colony can be seen fishing and roosting all around the East Anglian coast, often in good numbers.
This year marks the centenary of the National Trust’s ownership and management of Blakeney Point. For 100 years, the wildlife of the Point has been monitored by National Trust wardens. Back in 1912, there were more Common than Sandwich Terns and more Common than Grey Seals, today this has reversed in both cases.
The length and topography of the spit have also changed over the last century, with dunes eroding and forming and the point growing in a westerly direction.
National Trust Seasonal Warden at Blakeney Point, Ajay Tegala, commented on the Sandwich Tern breeding success, saying: "A constant throughout the past 100 years has been the point’s importance for wildlife and the need to protect this special place forever, for everyone. We are delighted that we have had such a success in this landmark year."
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