Conservation in Action

Moonday 8th February comments: Today we’ll dip back into our series featuring the seabirds of the Isle of May. Whilst some species remain around the island and struggle in current conditions, some are in the southern hemisphere such as our Sandwich Terns, which are over 8,000km away (as featured in last week’s blog). 

Seabirds like many birds can respond well to active conservation management and in recent years on the Isle of May we’ve been doing our bit for the nesting terns on the island. In one area of the island we’ve been transforming areas of nettle and rank vegetation into specialist ‘tern terraces’ to help encourage and increase the number of nesting terns. The idea is simplistic enough as we have large beds of gravel and sand complete with specialist Tern boxes. Throw in lots of hard work and we have ourselves some luxury specialist tern nesting habitat (prime real estate!)

Between 1980-2015 Sandwich Terns had only attempted to breed in seven years with the maximum count of 305 pairs in 2001. However since the creation of the tern terraces on the island in 2016 the species has bred in three of the last four years. Conservation stories like this can make a difference and it has helped the national Sandwich tern population increase by 4% between 1986-2018 as the U.K. has approximately 14,000 nesting pairs. The nearest largest nesting colonies to the Isle of May can be found at our fellow National Nature Reserve’s at Forvie in Aberdeenshire to the north (for more information: and to the south at the Farne Islands (Northumberland).

So there you go, behind the scenes we do our bit and help where we can and it does make a difference. It maybe simplistic but its conservation in action and the birds respond well to it. We’ll continue our seabird series on the blog this week whilst also bringing you any updates on the current situation our seabirds are facing with the current conditions. Stay tuned. 

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