More than 500 Arctic terns and five internationally threatened little terns have fledged this year at Tughall Mill, a stretch of Northumberland coast recently bought by the National Trust. The numbers represent a marked improvement on the previous year, when just two Arctic terns and five little terns were recorded.
It is thought that high tides and marine pollution had a negative impact on the 2016 fledglings. This year, however, with rangers protecting the terns against predators, such as foxes and stoats, the number of young terns taking flight increased substantially, according to the National Trust.
Tughall Mill – which comprises 200 acres of important wildlife habitats, including saltmarsh, woodland, hedgerows, pasture and sand dunes – was acquired by the National Trust over the summer for £1.5million.
“As an independent conservation charity, we are passionate about looking after special places for the benefit of people, wildlife and nature,” said General Manager of National Trust Northumberland Coast Simon Lee.
“Our investment in Tughall Mill offers a truly unique opportunity to do this. We already care for 12 miles of the Northumberland Coast and our team has considerable expertise in managing the land surrounding Tughall Mill.
Now we will be able to take a more joined-up approach and look after the wider landscape helping wildlife and nature flourish, as well as safeguarding the site for future generations.”
“The site at Tughall Mill is a very significant part of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, especially as it hosts such an important colony of little and Arctic terns, and fantastic dune grassland,” said David Feige, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Officer for the Northumberland Coast.
“It also has great potential to support a wide range of other declining wildlife, and so the AONB Partnership is delighted that the National Trust has been able to buy this site and we look forward to seeing it flourish in the Trust’s care.”
Alongside its protection of Arctic and little terns at Tughall Mill, the National Trust aim to link up hedgerows to create wildlife corridors, remove non-native invasive species to improve woodland areas, plant native woodland and hedgerow trees, and encourage the growth of native plant in the dunes and grasslands.
Main image ©Harry Shepherd (National Trust)