Coquet Island RSPB

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Coquet Island (Northumberland)
Roseate Terns !!!

Roseate Terns !!!

Lying approximately 1 mile (0.8km) from the mouth of the River Coquet at Amble, lies a small flat-topped island measuring around 16 acres surrounded by low sand stone cliffs and a broad rock platform at tide level. Coquet Island was purchased as Cockett Island in 1753 by the Duke of Northumberland from a certain John Widdrington together with ' all that Chappell within the said island being formerly parcel of the lords and possessions of the late dissolved monastery of Tynemouth'. History of the island goes back to Saxon times, being the dawn of Christianity in Northern England. Bede speaks of 'the Eland of Cockett' as home to monks during the conversion of Northumbrians from barbarism to the light of faith.
By 1730 it was said to be 'uninhabited' but in 1747 it had huts occupied by diggers of seacoal. Later stone was quarried for repairs to the Duke of Northumberland's Syon House in Brentford. In 1823 a book of lithographs by Charlotte Florentia, third duchess of Northumberland, described the island as 'containing about sixteen acres of land occupied chiefly as a rabbit warren although it is occasionally depastured by sheep'. By the late 1800's the island became a popular resort for day trips, not only from the mainland but from steamboat trips which landed crowds from Tyneside. As this became unfashionable the island once again was to fall deserted apart from the lighthouse crew. By the middle of the Twentieth century keen naturalists could obtain visiting permits from the Duke's office or the Natural history society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. However it soon became apparent that because of disturbance from the ever increasing use of small boats Coquet Island was in desperate need of protection. Accordingly in 1968 negotiations were started with various conservation bodies, culminating in the RSPB being granted a lease and it is now a protected bird reserve designated an SSSI. Picture:Roseate tern by Bruce Pearson .From the Hamlyn behaviour guide 'Seabirds'

Coquet Island presently supports internationally important numbers of breeding Sandwich Tern and the rarer Roseate Tern

Coquet Island presently supports internationally important numbers of breeding Sandwich Tern and the rarer Roseate Tern

The peaty soil of the plateau gives support to a grassland dominated by Yorkshire-fug and Fescues, which is closely cropped by the island's rabbit population. Grazing resistant plants such as common Ragwort and various species of Dock are plentiful giving cover to the many thousands of ground nesting birds and although maritime plants such as Thrift and Sea Campion have all but disappeared, there are dense stands of Nettle providing the birds with additional cover. Seals can be viewed on the northern side of the island.

Coquet Island presently supports internationally important numbers of breeding Sandwich Tern and the rarer Roseate Tern, with nationally important numbers of breeding Eider, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern and Puffin. Although no landings are allowed on the island, the boat trip that circumnavigates during late spring and summer is well worthwhile. Approaching from the river mouth on a glorious summer's day soon reveals the island under a ' snowstorm' of gulls and terns and should not be missed. If however you do not get the chance of a visit, the waters between the mainland and the island can be viewed from the dunes on the minor road between Amble and Hauxley.

Click here for Coquet Island location map....

There is no public access or landing on Coquet Island because of the risk of disturbance to nesting birds, but boat trips sail from Amble harbour around the island.Contact David Gray on 01665 711975
The RSPB's work on the Coquet Island reserve is part of the Wildlife Guardians Scheme, which is funded by the SITA Environmental Trust through the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, with the additional involvement of Scottish and Southern Energy plc. As part of a three year agreement, the Trust is providing funding of almost £100,000 to carry out the vital wardening and bird protection work required on this fabulous seabird colony.
The breeding populations of four species of nesting terns (including the rare roseate tern), puffins and many other species will all benefit, and the RSPB also have plans to develop new opportunities to interpret the wildlife of this special place. Oystercatcher nest opposite.
Roseate Terns

Roseate Terns

The number of roseate tern pairs in the UK increased from 58 pairs in 2001 and 69 in 2002 to 95-99 in 2003.
The RSPB reserve on Coquet Island has led this resurgence with an increase from 42 pairs in 2001 to 57 pairs in 2002 and 70 pairs in 2003. This is the only UK site which regularly supports more than 10 pairs.
All the roseate tern colonies in the United Kingdom are now within existing reserves, managed by a variety of groups including the RSPB, National Trust, Scottish Wildlife Trust and some local groups. All UK breeding sites for roseate tern have been designated as Special Protection Areas.
Artificial nesting sites have been provided on an experimental basis (for example 75 nest boxes have been provided on prepared terraces on Coquet Island) to provide more nesting habitat, so that all birds of breeding age are able to breed. Vegetation management is being carried out at some sites, either to provide more cover or, on sites like Coquet and Inchmickery, to suppress tall dense vegetation.

The RSPB has previously co-funded an educational programme in Ghana to try to reduce the level of winter trapping. Further studies of trapping in Ghana have now been initiated with the Ghana Wildlife Society.
2004 News
73 pairs of Roseate Tern took to the atificial nest boxes although two were 'taken' by Puffins.These artificial sites turned out to be invaluable as many hundreds of Common and Arctic Tern chicks perished in this years wet weather.Roseate's were luckier and although 29 chicks died, the majority survived thanks to the shelter provided by the boxes.However worse news was to come as a shortage of sand eels lead to many chicks starving to death.Adult birds resorted to catching alternative food including the rather unpalatable pipe fish, which meant that only the strongest chicks survived .Wardens had to physically remove pipe fish (which can grow up to 35cm) from some of the chicks throats to stop them choking.This year, the roseate terns fledged 63 chicks, compared to 80 in 2003. the last bird departing on 1st September. Click here for 'The Birds of Coquetdale (including Coquet Island)'.

Where to watch Birds in North East EnglandWhere to watch Birds in North East England

Recent bird photographs from Coquet Island
Video from Coquet Island
Coquet Island Twitter
Coquet island Links
Coquet Island Local Accommodation and services
Suggested Birdwatching walks Coquet island area

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