TAQA funding results in seabird success

editorial image

Visitors to a local nature reserve have enjoyed views of seabird chicks as they thrived for the first time in years thanks to a Donside firm.

Visitors to Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve were treated to views of fluffy common tern chicks this summer courtesy of international energy company TAQA.

Seabirds in other parts of Scotland seem to have had better breeding success this year driven by an apparent increase in food availability.

However, the success at Loch of Strathbeg is due to major DIY improvements achieved last winter and some new homes provided by a generous donation from TAQA, who are based in Westhill.

Richard Humpidge, site manager for RSPB Loch of Strathbeg, said: “In April, with the help of TAQA and Crimond Primary School, we launched some new tern rafts—floating islands that are designed to provide a secure place for terns to raise their chicks. They have been remarkably successful!”

“We did a lot of work last winter to the main nesting island in front of the visitor centre too. We flattened the profile, removed vegetation and topped it with around 10 tons of gravel that we ferried over by boat!

‘‘We also put up an otter -proof fence to give the chicks the best possible chance of survival. It was made possible thanks to hundreds of hours of hard work by volunteers, particularly members of the Aberdeen and District RSPB local group.

“Without the generosity of TAQA and the volunteers, the terns wouldn’t have done as well as they have this year. We really couldn’t have done it without them and we couldn’t be happier!”

This year, around 60 pairs of terns nested on the island, up from 11 pairs last year. Each pair successfully raised two or three chicks. An additional 10 pairs nested on the new tern rafts and they raised 24 young.

Lucy Buglass, chair of TAQA’s Community Relations Committee, helped to launch the rafts back in April.

She said: “It’s great to see what TAQA’s support has been able to achieve and we’re thrilled that the tern rafts have been such a success.

“We recognise that, as well as being one of the best places for wildlife in the UK, the Loch of Strathbeg is also a fantastic educational and community resource enjoyed by many, so hopefully the terns will encourage even more people to visit the reserve and learn about the fantastic array of wildlife that can be found there.”

Both the young terns and their parents have now left the Aberdeenshire reserve and headed south,travelling almost 3000 miles to their winter homes in West Africa.

In spring, the birds will make the return journey and there are high hopes that next year will see further success for seabird breeding in the local area.