Friday 6th September comments: The Isle of May National Nature Reserve (NNR) is celebrating a conservation success story as it welcomes back a rare breeding seabird. An adult Roseate Tern arrived in the island colonies in early June and paired with a Common Tern. The unlikely pairing produced a single chick which successfully fledged in early August.
The pair were attracted to the island by specially constructed ‘tern terraces’ – large square areas covered in sand and gravel with specialist tern boxes added to help aid nesting. Scottish Natural Heritage Nature Reserve Manager David Steel explained, “During the autumn of 2015 we started construction of the first tern terraces on the island to help increase nesting habitat for terns”.
David went on to say, “Over the last three years we’ve increased both Arctic and common tern breeding numbers whilst attracting sandwich terns back to the island, however this year we have gone one better.”
Although this year’s breeding attempt is of a hybrid pair, it did not curb the enthusiasm of David who went on to say, “To provide the habitat and safe nesting site for one individual is a major breakthrough and we can hopefully attract a pure pair in forthcoming years and establish roseate terns back as a regular breeder in Scotland.”
At present no other roseate terns breed in Scotland with the only colonies in Northumberland and North Wales.
Roseate terns are on the Red Data list which means the species is of high conservation concern and has been designated for protection under the government’s national Biodiversity Action Plan. As part of this, an EU-funded roseate tern LIFE Recovery Project was established to focus on enhancing breeding conditions at the core colonies in the UK while also improving five former roseate tern SPAs (Special Protection Areas) in preparation for a potential expansion which included islands in the Firth of Forth.