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A Bumper Year For Little Terns 13 September 2006

2006 has been a bumper year for Little Terns at the Ayres National Nature Reserve (NNR). This summer it is believed that twenty-one pairs of nesting birds successfully raised a minimum of 22 young. This is one of the best years for this species at the Ayres NNR and is a marked improvement on last year when all eggs produced were predated.

Little Terns are subject to a number of threats including disturbance, predation, flooding and food shortages. Sadly, in recent years there has been a substantial decline in Little Terns in Britain and Ireland and whole colonies have even been lost. A population census in 2000 found only 130 Little Tern colonies in the whole of Britain and Ireland¹.

The NNR is important for a number of rare species. Byelaws implemented in 2005 are aimed at protecting these species and the habitats supporting them, whilst allowing a range of different recreational uses in a manner that maintains the site as a beautiful place that many people love to visit, whatever their level of knowledge of the site.

The Department wishes to express its thanks to the those dog walkers and other recreational users who have exercised control on the site during the main bird breeding period, for the sake of the wildlife. This has clearly been a successful year.

¹Ratcliffe, N (2003) Little terns in Britain and Ireland: estimation and diagnosis of population trends. Proceedings of a symposium of little terns, Sterna albifrons.

Notes for Editors.

On the Isle of Man, little terns only nest on the Ayres. They are on the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern due to a decline in numbers in the British Isles, international threat and the small number of breeding sites.

Further information can be obtained from the Ayres Warden, Louise Samson on 483942 or Wildlife and Conservation Officer, Richard Selman on 842335.

Learn more about the site on the department’s website http://www.gov.im/daff/countryside/wildlife/ayres.xml.

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