150 nests at Eccles - the largest colony in the UK?
June 20, 2016
As little tern wardens we begin our season in early April and it is a nail-biting period in the run up to the first chick hatching. We talk a great deal about little terns being ‘committed’ to the whole process of breeding. First of all to a particular site, then to a partner, then to scraping a nest and then to laying eggs. If little terns get uncomfortable they will be off! They are known to be highly-sensitive ‘flighty’ birds and will not truly settle down until they have laid their clutch of eggs and begun incubating. Even after the eggs are laid little terns have abandoned en masse their nests and the colony and gone elsewhere - as happened at Winterton last June. We think that was a combination of poor food offshore combined with persistent predator attacks from the local corvid population. And so it was a relief to see so many little terns finally getting down to the incubation stage at Eccles these past few weeks. Each day we have seen our daily nest count increase and we are currently at a figure of 150 nests for Eccles which is a record for this small colony. It is twice the number of nests than in 2015 and is possibly one of the largest little tern colonies in the UK in 2016. That’s a lot of eggs to have in one basket. Photo credit: K. Simmonds