I’ve seen terns at every turn
I SPENT a week in the north east recently and I was treated to a real natural wonder when I visited the Long Nanny tern sanctuary.
As you approached Long Nanny along the lovely long Beadnell Bay beach, you could hear the terns chittering and chattering away.
The noise was immense as more than a thousand little tern (rare), Arctic tern and common tern were nesting on the beach and in the dunes.
At the nature reserve hut I was literally five yards from nesting common terns – hence the nice picture accompanying this article.
I normally only cry at football matches when Wigan Athletic win, so it’s not that often, but tears of joy were definitely starting to push their way from eye sockets.
This was a pretty emotional moment as the terns dived in to keep me at bay. Of course this is the north west so what is the connection? Well, this year I have noticed terns at almost every turn. I saw some at Wigan Flashes, they breed at Yarrow Valley in Chorley and on the Sefton Coast. I have even heard of them on the Ship Canal at Media City.
Terns are the most acrobatic of birds and they are at their most exciting when hovering over the sea, lakes and rivers and then diving arrow-like into water, before appearing with a tasty morsel.
The common tern is a medium-sized tern. It is sometimes a loner so you may see it away from known breeding colonies.
Common terns are noisy in their colonies and, like most terns, will attack intruders threatening their nests. I certainly had to do some ducking and diving.
They breed on sandy coasts, in dunes and on islands but also breed inland on gravelly banks of lakes and rivers.
Common terns and Arctic terns can be very difficult to tell apart.
The common tern is whiter below, has shorter tail streamers and a longer bill which is orangey-red with a black tip. Common terns are silvery-grey above with a large black cap and short red legs.
If we are starting to see more and more of these wonderful birds it is great news and it is creating some amazing spectacles on our coasts and inland water bodies.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside, all lying north of the River Mersey. It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The Trust has 29,000 members, and over 1,200 volunteers.
To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www. lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to: cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.
A tern at Beadnell Bay