Monday, 23 February 2015

Tyres for Terns!

Here’s a great story from the Forth Estuary where Scottish Sea Champions have turned fly tipped tyres into wildlife habitats! Volunteer Coordinator Matt gives us the low-down.

So on our typical quarterly beach cleans and surveys in the Forth Estuary in 2014 we found scores of fly-tipped tyres. Rather than leave these to deteriorate into the waters we decided to put them to good use.

It was mucky work as the tyres were dumped untreated and contained thick oils and contaminants that were leaching into the waters. Luckily the Great British public and Sea Champion volunteers rose to the challenge and thankfully wore old clothing! The tyres were collected and cleaned to remove chemicals and oils. Now to find a use for them rather than landfill.

Common Terns are one of our amazing species that migrate thousands of miles to our shores each summer to breed. These little fellas aren’t doing so well and have been declining in recent years. Originally they were found throughout the Forth Estuary but a mixture of disturbance, predation and vegetation growth can lead to nests failing. Most now nest in the Specially Protected Area at Leith Docks off Edinburgh but you know the saying about all your eggs and one basket so we started to look for alternate habitats to give them a helping hand.

There are numerous disused piers in the estuary that can accommodate terns if the conditions are right, this little beauty has Terns on it each year but not breeding successfully due to the exposed areas. 

Terns have been known to use rafts created from tyres to protect chicks from the elements, disturbance and from view from would be predators. So on a calm day Scottish Sea Champions set out to install the tyres and secure them with chains to create a potential seabird nesting habitat.

It would have been a long swim out but thankfully our friends at the Maid of the Forth were on hand to offer one of their wildlife watching vessels stationed in South Queensferry and North Berwick

After a little bit of effort from some passionate people we have hopefully helped our feathered marine friends for the 2015 breeding season. Mission complete!

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