Captain Coquet’s Corner: Holiday time for Coquet’s birds
This year has seen all kinds of weather, from storms to seemingly endless sunshine, but at last the island’s breeding birds have dispersed and the reserve is getting busy with the first of the winter visitors.
Part of the RSPB’s work on Coquet Island includes ringing some of the birds in order to give us some feedback on where they go and if they return to Coquet or nest elsewhere. Over fifty Sandwich tern chicks were ringed this year, to add to our knowledge of the birds’ behaviour and travel plans!
Last year, a Coquet Sandwich tern was spotted off the coast of Gambia, and this year a world first was reported with the sighting of a Coquet Sandwich tern in Massachusetts, North America; the first ever record of a Sandwich tern there. Another has been seen in the Netherlands whilst others seem to be content exploring the south coast of Britain before working their way to Africa.
The British Trust for Ornithology and Natural History Society of Northumbria (who run the ringing programme on Coquet) are delighted at the reports, and encourage people to keep a look out for birds with rings and report them to the RSPB or other organisation, so the information can be added to the national database.
The Sandwich terns aren’t the only ones! This year, a Coquet-raised roseate tern was spotted in Poland (only the second sighting in that country) and another roseate tern spotted in Switzerland. Quite amazing considering we only had 78 pairs nesting in the UK – and all of those were on Coquet Island!