Little terns have successfully raised chicks on the beach at Lossiemouth for the first time since 2015 thanks to the efforts of a small group of locals
Following reports that little terns had returned to Lossiemouth East Beach, in Moray in Scotland, from their oceanic travels this spring, a band of interested locals were helped by RSPB Scotland to erect a temporary fence in a small area where the birds appeared to be nesting.
These birds are the only little terns nesting in Moray this year, but little terns are very rarely successful at this location due to unintentional disturbance from walkers, dogs and bikes.
This year, thanks to the users of the beach avoiding the small fenced-off area and keeping their dogs under control, three little tern chicks successfully survived to take their first flight. A ringed plover nesting in the fenced area, which was on Forest Enterprise Scotland’s land near to Lossie Forest, also successfully raised two chicks.
It is the first time since 2015 that little terns have successfully raised chicks on the beach at Lossiemouth and between 2007 and 2017 only two chicks were raised, one in 2013 and one in 2015.
Margaret Sharpe, one of the local volunteers said: “"It's brilliant these birds have had a fair chance to breed and raise young, after witnessing years of failure due to increasing disturbance. I am greatly heartened by the public’s response in respecting the breeding enclosure, and hopefully, this summer’s success will be repeated in future years"
Little terns are the UK’s smallest tern, but are famed for their acrobatic courtship displays. They are approximately the size of a starling but with longer wings and weighing much less. Little terns have distinctive yellow bills with a black tip and a black cap with a white forehead. They feed just offshore, hovering above the water before diving to catch small fish.
Little terns arrive back in April after spending the winter in Africa and leave again in August. They can be seen nesting on gravelly beaches in small colonies. However, because they lay eggs on the sand in amongst the shingle, their nests are vulnerable to high tides and predation, which usually occurs following human disturbance. In 2015, only 200 pairs bred in Scotland and only 25 pairs in the east of Scotland, so it is vital that this small colony at Lossiemouth continues to be protected.
Journalists wanting more information should contact Kirsty Nutt, RSPB Scotland Communications Manager, on 01224 627869 or 07711 385595 or email firstname.lastname@example.org