Coquet Island seabird sanctuary

Situated off the Northumberland coast, Coquet Island is a vibrant seabird sanctuary, which is home to the UK’s only roseate tern breeding colony. It is also an important site for nesting puffins and common, Sandwich and Arctic terns.

 Roseate tern on nest amongst lichen covered rocks


Situated a mile off the Northumberland coast, Coquet Island is home to 40,000 breeding seabirds and is the only UK breeding site for roseate terns (rosy). Protected under international and UK law, it is also important for breeding puffins, as well as common and Arctic terns. Owing to its importance for roseate terns, Coquet Island is a wildlife sanctuary and public landing is not permitted.


  • Increase/maintain the number of breeding seabirds on island above 40,000 through habitat management and protection from predation and human disturbance.
  • Increase the breeding roseate tern population through the provision of nest terraces and habitat management.
  • Use Coquet Island as a feeder site to expand the breeding range of roseate terns.
  • Maintain and increase the numbers of Arctic, common and Sandwich terns.
  • Increase public awareness of the seabird colony at Coquet Island through technology including live feeds and virtual reality. 


Planned Work

We hope to attract more nesting roseate terns by creating a new terrace and installing 100 new nest boxes. In 2018, we hope to give the public an even greater insight into life on Coquet Island by installing three live camera feeds. 


1970 – Residential wardens began working on the island during the breeding season.  
1990 - Wardens moved from living in a shed to the lighthouse, which became automated.
1991 - The first kittiwake nested on Coquet:  population now grown to 448 pairs.
2015 - Pairs of roseate terns topped the 100 mark for the first time since their decline 40 years ago.
2015 - The number of rosy chicks ringed since the ringing began reached 1000.
2015 - Four pairs of Mediterranean gulls nested.
2016 - Creation of Virtual Reality Coquet Island (which was demonstrated at the Scottish Parliament in 2017).
2016 - The ruined cottages on the island were restored and added to our enabling us to host residential volunteers during the months either side of the breeding season.
2016 - Launch of the EU Roseate Tern Life project.
2017 - 25 tern rafts were created by inmates at HMS Northumberland prison
2017 - A total of 4520 pairs of terns now nesting on Coquet Island.
2017 – Live streaming from two cams brought Coquet to the world. One cam was set up inside a rosy nest box – a world-first, giving a peek into the secret life of the roseate tern.  Between May and August there were more than 1.5 million visits to the online live feed.


EU Roseate Tern Life Project


Funding from the EU LIFE programme


Tagged with: Habitat: Marine and intertidal Species: Arctic tern Species: Common tern Species: Puffin Species: Roseate tern Project status: Ongoing Project types: Site protection