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Ground Nesting Birds on Northern Beaches 4 May 2007

From now until the end of July is the time when Little Terns, Arctic Terns, Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers lay their eggs on the beaches around the north of the Island. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry appeals to the public to take care to protect these birds.

These declining bird species are vulnerable to disturbance. They leave their eggs and chicks when people and dogs are in their vicinity. If this is prolonged the eggs and chicks may die from exposure. Defenceless eggs and young that are not protected by their parents are also a tasty snack for opportunistic gulls and crows. Furthermore the eggs and chicks are camouflaged to look like pebbles and sand on the beach, and unless extreme care is taken they can easily be trampled.

The eggs are incubated for 3-4 weeks, and the chicks remain on the ground and flightless for a further 3-5 weeks, depending on the species.

Please note that these birds are protected under the Manx Wildlife Act, so intentionally disturbing or harming the birds, their nests, eggs or chicks is an offence, with a fine of £5000. Dogs should therefore be kept under control.

The Department would like to raise the public’s awareness of these vulnerable birds particularly after several incidents occurred in 2006. These included an Oystercatcher nest that was stepped in destroying the eggs, a trampled Oystercatcher chick, several incidents of disturbance to the Arctic Terns at the Point of Ayre, and one incident that resulted in the death of an adult Arctic Tern.

The birds nest on the upper shore and can be avoided by walking close to the sea or on the heath.

For further information please contact the Wildlife and Conservation Division, DAFF on 843109 or for further information relating to the Ayres National Nature Reserve please phone the Ayres NNR Warden on 483942.

LIttle Tern
Little Tern and Chick on Nest

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