Projects and Innovations


Roseate Terns

GFB Help one of the World’s Rarest Seabirds! Roseate Terns are one of our most graceful birds and one of our rarest. They nest on only a small number of offshore islands in the UK. In the late 19th century, these birds were hunted for their plumes which were used to decorate hats. More recently, their numbers have decreased in some regions due to increased competition and predation by large gulls, whose numbers have increased in recent times.

GFB Help one of the World’s Rarest Seabirds!

Roseate Terns are one of our most graceful birds and one of our rarest. They nest on only a small number of offshore islands in the UK. In the late 19th century, these birds were hunted for their plumes which were used to decorate hats. More recently, their numbers have decreased in some regions due to increased competition and predation by large gulls, whose numbers have increased in recent times.

Every year they fly back from West Africa, a distance of over 4000 miles to breed on the small island of Coquet, a mile off the town of Amble in Northumberland. 99% of the UK population nest on this tiny island! 24 hour protection from the RSPB wardens is essential to guard against egg collectors the second thing they need is protection from large gulls, that’s where the nest boxes come in.

Paul Morrison and Wez the RSPB Coquet Island Wardens take up the story

“It is absolutely essential that they always have a home to come to on Coquet Island where they are safe to rear their young without human disturbance or interference. This is why we monitor their nests 24 hours a day throughout the time that they are on the island”.

You will see from the photo that Roseate Terns use nest boxes that we put out for them each year, to raise their young, a behaviour that is unique to these special terns. These boxes significantly improve their chances, protecting the chicks from inclement weather and being eaten by gulls”.

GFB have designed nest boxes which will last much longer than the older boxes on the island. These new eco-tern boxes have proven to be a big success so far with results from the island showing an increase in nesting birds in 2015 to over 100 pairs! 

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