Best bird breeding season for 15 years at Blakeney Point

Warm spring weather, eagle-eyed wardens and respectful visitors combined to make it the best breeding season for 15 years at Norfolk's oldest nature reserve.

Blakeney Point national nature reserve is celebrating its best performance since the mid-1990s, with a bumper crop of threatened little terns and sandwich terns.

The four-mile long sand and shingle spit off the North Norfolk coast is managed by the National Trust and is a popular haunt for nature loving tourists and locals, who visit to see the seals and the many bird species that use it as a seasonal stop-over.

It is an internationally important breeding area for a number of sea birds. It is home to 30pc of the UK's sandwich terns and 8pc of the UK's little terns.

This summer, 3,562 pairs of sandwich tern bred on the reserve and fledged up to 2,000 young, while 160 pairs of little tern produced around 140 young.

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A National Trust spokesman said the conservation success story could be put down to a number of factors, including 'a plentiful supply of fish in the local area, limited disturbance from people and predators during the nesting period, and possibly the warm dry spring giving the birds a good start'.

There was also praise for volunteer little tern warden Malcolm Davies, from Kelling, who dedicated his summer to protecting the nesting little terns by patrolling the reserve, talking to members of the public and minimising disturbance.

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Although not quite as impressive as the terns' success, wading birds have also been holding their own on Blakeney Point, with 110 pairs of oystercatcher, 17 pairs of ringed plover, and 14 pairs of redshank. In comparison with recent years, these species remain steady in their numbers.

Coastal warden for Blakeney Point, Edward Stubbings, said: 'We are thrilled here at the National Trust that Blakeney Point's tern colonies have done so well this year.

'With many tern colonies in other parts of Britain in decline because of a shortage of food due to climate change, predation and disturbance from humans, it's extremely encouraging for some good news to emerge here in North Norfolk.'

He added: 'This is no time to be complacent however, as our sea birds still need all the help they can get in order to overcome the potential problems posed by increasing human activities and climate change.

'Here's hoping that subsequent seasons on Blakeney Point will be as successful as this year.'

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