It has been a busy summer at the three roseate tern colonies with the wardens monitoring and protecting them, but more the 2017 breeding highs and lows in a later blog post.
An important part of the Roseate Tern LIFE Recovery Project is information exchange and not only between our UK and Irish colonies and partners. As terns like many animals do not stop at a country's border; understanding movement between sites and protecting these areas is essential.
In north-west Europe, of the two other countries that support breeding roseate terns; the closest to the British Isles is France. Breeding roseate terns are located entirely in Brittany and historically their population followed a similar decline to the rest of the Europe. In the past, tern wardens have recorded British and Irish terns nesting in the French colonies; meaning there is obviously some interchange across the English Channel.
As a result, in late July several members of the Roseate Tern LIFE staff, BirdWatch Ireland, RSPB and National Parks and Wildlife Services travelled to Brest to meet with Mr Yann Jacobs, Tern Project Manager/Regional Coordinator from Bretagne Vivante and visit the key tern sites.
Ile aux Moutons, an island south of Finistère was our first port of call. Now the stronghold of breeding roseate terns in Brittany, 2017 saw the island supporting 43 pairs. In addition it also had 2552 pairs of Sandwich terns and 271 pairs of common terns. Our visit offered the opportunity to discuss and exchange various management methods used and resulting experiences. (Photo Credit: Chantal Macleod-Nolan)
The monitoring of the tern colony is undertaken by interns/warden who have basic accommodation; small equivalent of a bothy. The island is managed by Bretagne Vivante and Conservation du Littoral. To prevent disturbance during the critical breeding season, parts of the island has been roped off and signage has been erected at a viewpoint which provides a detailed explanation on the various ground nesting shorebirds and seabirds present. (Left to Right: Gaétan Guyot, Yann Jacob, Charlotte Belcher, Léa Daures, Matt Brown, Bruno Ferré, Paul Morrison, Benjamin Callard, Daniel Piec, Steve Newton, Tony Murray, Chantal Macleod-Nolan. Photo Credit: Yann Jacob)
The following morning we visited Ile de Bréhat where we met Yann Février, Delphine Mathérion and Irène Nègre from Groupe d’Études Ornithologiques des Côtes d’Armor (GEOCA). They monitor the terns which nest in the Bréhat and Trégor-Goëlo archipelago. It is a particularly complex site due to the terns nesting on a multitude of islets. The SPA is known to support breeding common terns (38-74 pairs in 2016), Sandwich terns (30 pairs in 2015) and little terns (1 pair in 2015), although their breeding numbers have greatly fluctuated on an annual basis. In addition, roseate terns have been observed nesting in this area intermittently over the years, with the most recent attempt consisting of two pairs in 2015. (Photo Credit: Delphine Mathérion)
Our visit in the afternoon to Ile de la Colombière (which at low tides is connected to the mainland) was delayed somewhat due to a flat tyre. Luckily it happened close to a garage and once replaced, we continued on our quest! On arrival we met the seasonal wardens Elise Soetens and Kevin Dréo, and as a group we progressed to the causeway. (Photo Credit: Yann Jacobs)
The island supports breeding Sandwich terns, common terns, oystercatchers and rock pipits. It is a former breeding site for roseate terns and has been used regularly in the last 10 years (consistently between 2007 and 2014), although numbers fluctuate on a year on year basis. Since 2010, it has been the second most frequent site in Brittany for roseate terns. The conservation bodies managing and monitoring the site are Bretagne Vivante and Conseil départmental Cȏtes d’Armor. As the island is accessible at low tide, human disturbance is also a major threat to the site. There are several signs erected during the breeding season stating that it is an exclusion zone of 100m. (Photo Credit: Yann Jacobs)
The last day of site visits involved getting a boat out to the archipelago of Molène and Ouessant, which represents the second most important area in Brittany for nesting seabirds (after the archipelago of Sept-Îles). We landed on Ile de Litiry, a small island, which has dense vegetation and shingle beaches. It is monitored by Parc naturel marin iroise. Little terns and common terns have been recorded to nest here and during our visit, Dr Steve Newton discovered a storm petrel egg, a new breeding species for the island!! (Photo Credit: Chantal Macleod-Nolan)
Next stop was Ile de Quéménes (Ile de Kemenez) which is managed by Conservation du Littoral. It regularly supports three species tern: Sandwich, little and common. In 2016, 3 to 5 pairs of roseate terns attempted to nest on the island as well. There are two distinct areas where the terns nest. The monospecific little tern colony nests on the south beach of the island, where the substrate is sandy/shingle; whilst the other colony comprising of mixed tern species is located near the jetty on a stony substrate. (Photo Credit: Chantal Macleod-Nolan)
Ile aux Dames was the final site of the trip. Famous for being the main breeding colony of roseate terns from 1983 until 2010; it was a good to hear more about the island's circumstances. The island is monitored and managed by Bretagne Vivante and Conservation du Littoral, with an exclusion zone of 80m around the island to deter humans landing and disturbing the nesting birds. Although anti-predator fencing was successful in preventing mammalian predators, the abandonment of the island by terns was likely due to the persistent pair of peregrine falcons. This island is still an important area as terns may consider recolonising it in the future. (Photo Credit: Daniel Piec)
Both Bretagne Vivante's exchange visit to Northumberland and this the LIFE Project's trip to France have been fantastic opportunities; allowing us to get a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the different sites and the management approaches from various organisations. Through the collaboration of organisations which manage roseate tern colonies on an international scale; we can potentially offer new solutions and set a precedent for future activities.
News travels fast amongst the birdwatching community- bad news even faster.
It’s very, very quiet at Cemlyn.
Earlier this year and following a run of excellent breeding seasons, North Wales WildlifeTrust with help from the Roseate Tern LIFE Project, installed rafts on Cemlyn lagoon. This was a pro-active measure to encourage Common terns, protect breeding birds against predation and to relieve nest site ‘pressure’ given the continued expansion of the Sandwich Tern colony. Our early optimism for the 2017 breeding season was premature and we are very sad to report that despite a good start, 2017 has been a very difficult year and the terns have abandoned nesting and dispersed.
From mid-May onwards, it became obvious that Cemlyn’s lagoon islands were being harassed by otters – a species that just like the terns, benefits from strong legal protection. Initially, the predation targeted black-headed gull nests however, the disturbance and panic created by these predators kept the gulls and the terns off the islands their nests for long periods, often during wet or cold nights. Concerted and prolonged predation of protected species by another protected species presents a complex management dilemma for North Wales WildlifeTrust.
Following discussion with Natural Resources Wales, a number of attempts were made to deter the predators but these were generally unsuccessful. As the breeding season progressed the nesting terns became increasingly unsettled and the many nests that were abandoned created additional opportunities for predation by corvids and the large gulls. The main part of the tern colony was largely abandoned by 17th June however, Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns continued to try to nest on the smaller island in the lagoon. Despite the erection of a protective fence, these remaining birds subsequently deserted as well.
Predation and disturbance by land mammals and birds on such a scale is not a unique event at Cemlyn or other colonies; the last such events at Cemlyn were in 2007 and 2008. Where the main ‘culprits’ were heron and geese. The key thing now, as then, is that North Wales Wildlife Trust anticipate and respond to the threat of predation. Longer term plans and measures for protecting the colony will be put in place before the return of the terns in the Spring of 2018. Working with other organisations with experience of dealing with such issues, we will put in place a series of measures to ensure that the Cemlyn terns get as much protection and the best breeding chances possible; these measures will of course, be appropriately licenced and consented by the Natural Resources Wales as the statutory environmental and species licensing authority.
Most of the adult terns, having abandoned breeding, are now moulting and have dispersed away from Cemlyn. They continue to take advantage of and feed off the shoals of sandeels and whitebait around Anglesey’s coasts. In the few short weeks of our summer, the small fish stocks around Anglesey’s coasts will give them the strength and nutrition for the long journey south.
We are asking our coastal communities, sea anglers, walkers on the Anglesey Coastal Path and our wildlife watchers to keep an eye out for large flocks of Sandwich terns – it would be interesting to know where they spend time before the long migration south for winter.
Guest Blog by Alison - Roseate Tern Community Engagement Officer
Mae newyddion yn trafaelio yn cyflym yn nghymuned yr adarwyr – newyddion drwg hyd yn oed yng hynt. Yn Cemlyn mae hi ‘n dra ddistaw.
Yn gynharach eleni ac yn dilyn amrediad o dymhorau bridio gwych, gosodwyd Ymddiriedolaeth Natur Gogledd Cymru, gyda chymorth gan Prosiect LIFE y Môr-wennol wridog, rafftiau ar y lagŵn yng Nghemlyn. Mesur gweithredol oedd hyn i annog y môr-wennol gyffredin, i amddiffyn adar bridio yn erbyn cael eu rheibio ac i leddfu “pwysa” ar y safle nythu gan fod nythfa’r môr-wennoliaid pigddu yn tyfu’n gyson. Cynamserol roedd ein gobeithion cynnar am 2017 ac rydym yn dra siomedig i orfod adrodd, er y cychwyniad da, y bod 2017 wedi bod yn flwyddyn anodd dros ben ac mae’r môr-wennoliaid wedi gadael eu nythod ac wedi gwasgaru.
O ganol mis Mai ymlaen, fe ddaeth hi yn amlwg fod yr ynysoedd yn y lagŵn yng Nghemlyn yn cael eu poenydio gan ddyfrgwn – rhywogaeth sydd , fel y môr-wennoliaid, yn elw o amddiffyniad llywodraethol gre. Yn y dechrau targed yr ysglyfaethu oedd nythod y gwylanod penddu ond, fe oedd yr aflonyddwch a’r cynnwrf oedd wedi gael eu creu gan y rheibwyr hyn wedi cadw’r gwylanod ar môr-wennoliaid i ffwrdd o’r ynysoedd a’i nythod am gyfnod maith, yn aml ar nosweithiau gwlyb ac oer. Mae ysglyfaethu cytunedig ac hir dymor o rywogaethau amddiffynnol gan rywogaethau amddiffynnol arall yn creu penbleth rheolaeth cymhleth i Ymddiriedolaeth Natur Gogledd Cymru.
Yn dilyn trafodaethau hefo Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru, gwneuthum nifer o ymdrechion i rwystro y rheibwyr ond ar y cyfan profodd rhain yn aflwyddiannus. Fel aeth y tymor bridio yn ei flaen fe aflonyddodd y môr-wennoliaid yn fwy-fwy ac fe grëwyd y nifer y nythod gweigion ragor o gyfleodd o reibio gan frain a gwylanod mawr. Cafwyd y rhan fwyaf o’r prif ddarn y cytref môr-wennoliaid ei adael erbyn 17ain o Fehefin ond, fe ymdrechodd môr-wennoliaid cyffredin, y Gogledd a’r bigddu nythu ar yr ynys leiaf yn y lagŵn. Er bod yna ffens wedi eu chodi i amddiffyn yr adar, yn y diwedd fe adawodd yr adar hyn hefyd .
Nid yw rheibio ac aflonyddwch gan famaliaid y tir ac adar ar ffasiwn raddfa mor unigryw yng Nghemlyn neu gytrefi eraill; y digwyddiadau tebyg blaenorol yng Nghemlyn oedd yn 2007 a 2008. Yr adeg hyn y prif “droseddwyr” oedd crehyrod a gwyddau. Y peth pwysig nawr, fel yr oedd adeg hynny, y dylid Ymddiriedolaeth Natur Gogledd Cymru ragweld ac ymateb i’r bygythiad o reibio. Fe fydd cynlluniau a mesuriadau hir dymor i amddiffyn y cytref mewn lle cyn i’r môr-wennoliaid ddychwelyd yn y Gwanwyn o 2018. Drwy gyd-weithio hefo mudiadau eraill gyda phrofiadau yn y maes hyn, fe fyddem yn gosod cyfres o fesurau mewn llaw er mwyn sicrhau y bydd môr-wennoliaid Cemlyn yn cael cyn gymaint o amddiffyniad ar siawns gorau o fridio a sydd bosib; wrth gwrs fe fydd y mesurau hyn yn cael eu trwyddedu’n briodol ac wedi eu caniatáu gan Gyfoeth Natur Cymru fel y awdurdod statudol amgylcheddol a trwyddedu rhywogaeth .
Wedi rhoi gorau i fridio mae oedolion y môr-wennoliaid nawr yn bwrw eu plu ac wedi symud i ffwrdd o Gemlyn . Maent yn parhau i fwydo ar y heigiau o lymrïaid a silod mân o gwmpas arfordiroedd Ynys Môn. Yn yr wythnosau byr o’n Haf, mae’r nifer o bysgod o gwmpas arfordiroedd Ynys Môn yn rhoi nerth a maeth iddynt am y siwrnai hir i’r De.
Rydym yn gofyn i’n cymunedau arfordirol, pysgotwyr môr, cerddwyr ar Lwybr Arfordirol Môn a ein gwylwyr bywyd gwyllt gadw golwg allan am heidiau o fôr-wennoliaid pigddu – diddorol fydd gwybod ym mhle maent yn treulio amser cyn iddynt fudo i’r de am y gaeaf.
Guest Blog by Alison - Swyddog Cymunedol y Môr-wennol gwridog
Are you interested in seeing some of the stunning seabirds in the Firth of Forth?
Why not consider the RSPB's Seabird Cruises which are available during the summer?
South Queensferry Cruises
Join the RSPB aboard the Maid of the Forth for a 3 hour fun and fact filled trip around the islands of the Forth.
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Cruises sail on Sunday 4th June and Sunday 2nd July at 6pm.
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Hop aboard the ‘Seafari Explorer’ catamaran for a two hour trip around the fascinating Forth islands.
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Cruise sails on Saturday 17th June at 6pm.
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The South Queensferry cruise is £18 for adults (RSPB members £16) and £7 for children. Family tickets (two adults and two children) are £40.
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