Coastal Birds

Durham Priority Species
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Coastal Birds Action Plan

Priority Species: Roseate Tern, Little Tern, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Redshank, Lapwing, Curlew, Avocet, Cormorant, Fulmar, Golden Plover, Kittiwake, Razorbill, Ringed Plover, Shelduck, Turnstone

Priorities
1. Maintain existing populations and range of coastal birds in the DBAP area
2. Re-establish breeding tern colonies at suitable locations along the coast.
3. Protect, manage and improve important breeding sites and feeding areas
4. Increase public awareness and reduced disturbance of breeding and foraging birds.

Roseate Tern Targets
Vision Statement: To re-establish breeding colony of roseate tern in Sunderland Docks area or elsewhere on Durham Coast

Target Type Unit Value
1. To re-establish breeding roseate terns on the Durham coast. restore breeding pairs  tbc

Little Tern Targets
Vision Statement: To ensure long term breeding success for little tern in the Durham BAP area

Target Type Unit Value
1. To maintain the population of little tern in the Durham BAP area. maintain breeding pairs tbc

Sanderling Targets
Vision Statement: To achieve a better understanding of the factors affecting sanderling, and to increase numbers to 1980 levels.

Target Type Unit Value
1. To maintain the number of wintering sanderling in the Durham BAP area. maintain winter peak counts 72

Purple Sandpiper
Vision Statement: To achieve a better understanding of the factors affecting purple sandpiper, and to increase numbers to 1980 levels.

Target Type Unit Value
1. To maintain the number of wintering purple sandpiper in the Durham BAP area maintain winter peak counts 23

Redshank Targets

Target Type Unit Value
1. To maintain the range of breeding redshank in the Durham BAP area. maintain occupied km squares  tbc
2. To maintain the number of wintering redshank in the Durham BAP area. maintain winter peak counts 780

Lapwing Targets

Target Type Unit Value
1. To maintain the number of breeding territories of lapwing in the Durham BAP area. maintain breeding territories tbc
2. To maintain the number of wintering lapwing in the Durham BAP area. maintain winter peak counts 1254

Curlew Targets

Target Type Unit Value
1. To maintain the range of breeding curlew in the Durham BAP area. maintain occupied km squares tbc
2. To maintain the number of wintering curlew in the Durham BAP area. maintain occupied km squares 245

Targets for Avocet, Cormorant, Fulmar, Golden Plover, Kittiwake, Razorbill, Ringed Plover, Shelduck, Turnstone still to be developed.

The most visible evidence of breeding birds along our coastline is the sight, sound and smell of seabird colonies such as Marsden. Other breeding activity is less obvious, but including terns, ringed plover and rock pipit among others.

Our coastline is also an important habitat for passage and wintering waders, including sanderling, purple sandpiper, lapwing and curlew. With Britain located on the East Atlantic flyway it provides a crucial part of the chain required by breeding waders moving anywhere between the arctic and the African continent.

Local status

Roseate tern are often seen feeding and roosting along the Durham coast following post-breeding dispersal from breeding colonies. It is likely that the majority of the birds seen will be from the long-established breeding colony on Coquet Island in Northumberland. This species does not breed in the County, but has done so in the past.

Little tern – there is a small well-established breeding colony at Crimdon.

Sanderling is a passage and winter visitor and can be seen along sandy shorelines along the coast. 100+

Purple sandpiper is a passage and winter visitor. Often overlooked, it can be seen along the rocky shorelines of the coast. 50+

Redshank utilise all inter-tidal areas; mudflat, sand and rocks and the coast supports good numbers (400+) on passage and wintering. Many of these birds are not local breeding birds (which tend to move south-west to Ireland etc), but are from more northerly populations such as Iceland.

Lapwing can be found in good numbers (300+) along the coast out of the breeding season on passage and wintering. Many of these birds are not locally breeding birds, but are from northern Europe.

Curlew also utilise inter-tidal areas with birds both on passage and wintering along the coast.

Threats

There are three main threats to coastal habitats which support breeding and wintering birds:

  • Disturbance
    Due to the large urban populations close to the coast, our coastline suffers heavily from disturbance by human activity. The effect of this disturbance manifests itself in two ways. The most obvious is disturbance of breeding birds – repeated disturbance can result in breeding failure through birds abandoning nests. Somewhat less obvious is the effect of disturbance on foraging birds. In low temperatures, waders frequently need to forage throughout the available time between tides if they are to survive. Frequent disturbance affects them in two ways – it reduces the amount of time they can spend feeding and also uses up valuable energy reserves through constantly having to take flight.
  • Habitat Degradation
    Foraging birds, such as waders, not only need the presence of the correct prey, but it also needs to be of a minimum density to make foraging viable. It is therefore crucial that the invertebrate population on which these birds feed is of the correct type and density – reduction in this biomass reduces the ability of the habitat to support these birds. The ecosystem on which these invertebrates and ultimately the birds rely, is fuelled primarily by organic matter, the bulk of which is provided from seaweed deposited on the beach. Clearing of beaches can have a double impact; firstly starving the ecosystem of this vital resource and also disturbing the top few centimetres of sediment, the crucial layer for the development of invertebrate offspring.
  • Predation
    The third major threat is predation. Ground-nesting birds such as terns are very vulnerable to this and it can have a catastrophic effect on the breeding success.
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