An island’s rare seabird colony will be given extra protection thanks to a fund set up by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
Situated a mile off the coast of Amble in Northumberland, Coquet Island is home to tens of thousands of breeding seabirds during spring and summer, including the UK’s only colony of roseate terns.
As a result, the RSPB reserve is designated as a wildlife sanctuary and landing is prohibited without consent.
The Police Commissioner’s Community Fund has awarded a grant of £2,000 to help protect the island from wildlife crime.
The RSPB will use the grant to upgrade the island’s outdated CCTV system so wardening staff can monitor the nesting colonies effectively for illegal activity such as egg theft and disturbance of roseate terns.
In 2004, roseate tern eggs were stolen and in July 2012 two brothers from Amble were convicted in court of causing reckless disturbance to breeding roseate terns when they landed on the island.
Paul Morrison, warden at RSPB Coquet Island, said: “This generous grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner means that we will be able provide greater protection for the UK’s rarest seabird and make staff feel more safe and secure when working on the island.
“It is also a powerful endorsement of the RSPB’s view that wildlife crime is a serious issue that needs to be tackled head on with the right resources.”
Vera Baird said: “Tackling wildlife crime is an important priority and I am pleased that we have been able to support the excellent work of the RSPB to help protect some of the UK’s rarest seabirds on Coquet Island.
“Northumbria Police and I will continue to work closely with the RSPB to help protect rare birds and to stop the theft of birds eggs.”
Police visit the island to brief staff on to how to respond in the event of a disturbance/intended egg theft attempts.
Last year the 93 pairs of roseate terns on Coquet Island was a 19% increase on 2013,
Roseate terns travel over 4,000 miles from West Africa to breed on the island each year.
Arctic terns with 1,464 pairs were also 19% up, and the common terns total of 1.196 pairs was an increase of almost 15%.
In 2000 the RSPB began providing wooden house-shaped nesting boxes in terraces for the roseate terns.
At that time there were only 24 nesting pairs.
The boxes significantly improve the terns’ chances of breeding success by protecting the chicks from bad weather and predation from gulls.