However, the Isle of Anglesey also supported another species of tern known as the rarest breeding seabird in the UK. There were only 106 breeding pairs in 2016. Roseate terns (Sterna dougallii) with their incredibly pale plumage with slight rosy flush and long tail streamers are considered the most elegant of the five British breeding terns. These endangered birds migrate each spring from the western Africa to breed at only a handful of colonies in the UK and Ireland.
As a result, the additional funding towards the Skerries tern colony provided a two week extension on the wardening season, along with newly designed nest boxes being placed strategically around the islands. The wardens also placed lures playing roseate tern calls and hand-made decoys with the aim of attracting passing roseate terns to the colony.
The continued management of this site for these seabirds is done by two RSPB wardens who live on the island from May to August. Their accommodation is in the old keepers’ quarters in the lighthouse, and now boasts running water, electricity & hot shower thanks to improvements provided by Trinity House. The presence of the wardens has been a vital ingredient in the success of the colony over the years and by deterring predators, reducing human disturbance, providing nestboxes, managing vegetation (and monitoring all of it along the way!) they can greatly improve the chances of chicks surviving.
With the terns currently winging their way back from Africa, we await with eager breath to what the summer of 2017 will bring!