Two roseate tern chicks were born at The Skerries, a group of small rocky islets close to Anglesey in north Wales, during the summer and both of the chicks has now fledged – the first chicks to do so since 2006.
“We are ecstatic with news of roseate terns returning to breed on The Skerries,” says Daniel Piec, manager of the Roseate Tern LIFE Recovery Project. “The work undertaken on the islands over previous years has been key to attracting them back.”
This involved extending the wardening season on The Skerries, strategically placing nestboxes on the islands, placing hand-made decoys, and lures playing roseate tern calls.
Roseate terns are a rare breeding bird in the UK, with only 116 breeding pairs (excluding the recent pair at The Skerries) restricted to Coquet Island in northeast England.
They were once widespread across Wales but because their plumage was prized for fashionable hats, they almost became extinct in the 19th century.
“In 2016, one pair bred [at The Skerries] but did not fledge any young,” says RSPB Cymru warden Ian Sims. “Whilst in 2003, two pair bred but failed to fledge any young. We are optimistic of attracting more terns in the future.”
Conservationists from the RSPB, Birdwatch Ireland and the North Wales Wildlife Trust are working together to improve the fate of roseate terns in Wales and Ireland, through a five year EU-funded project.
The project will also attempt to create suitable nesting sites for roseate terns across the UK and Ireland.