Terns are gathering on the newly refurbished nesting platform at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Montrose Basin reserve in Angus.
Up to 80 common terns have been counted on the raft at any one time, with the total number using the platform likely to be higher. The migrant birds are quickly pairing up. They have been seen both mating (forming pairs) and breeding.
The floating raft, named ‘Maid of Sterna Stuff II’ is filled with a base of crushed shells and gives terns a safe place to nest away from the attention of ground-based predators, although the birds will still have to defend their nests from gulls.
Common terns are small seabirds that migrate north for the summer to breed. Most pairs lay a clutch of three eggs, which can take 3-4 weeks to hatch. The species is amber listed in the UK due to recent population declines.
Our Montrose Basin Ranger Anna Cowie said: “Terns are great to watch as they form breeding pairs. They have wonderful courting displays where males and females cross over in the air and zig-zag down to the raft. Males then adopt an unusual stance with head down and wings out while circling the female and offer a fish to their potential mate to seal the deal.
“We’re pleased to be giving terns a safe home on the Basin this season after completing major repairs on the raft earlier this year.”
“The signs are good that we will have a successful season and it won’t be long until the terns are raising their chicks. We’re pleased to be giving them a safe home on the Basin this season after completing major repairs on the raft earlier this year.”
The tern raft was brought ashore for repairs after the 2017 breeding season. Its refurbishment and refloating has been supported funded by EB Scotland through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund.
The raft is easily viewed through telescopes at Montrose Basin Visitor Centre, which is open daily throughout the year.