Published: 20:55Monday 15 July 2019
Furious environmentalists have lashed out at owners of Leith Docks after a colony of endangered seabirds disappeared.
The 2,000-strong common tern colony on a man-made island in Imperial Dock was abandoned this month.
Naturalists claim that increased shipping activity has scared the birds away, after dead terns and abandoned eggs were found at the site last month.
TV wildlife presenter Chris Packham has branded it a “tragedy in contemporary conservation”.
Common terns are at risk in the UK, rated “amber” by the Birds of Conservation Concern review. The Leith tern colony was the third largest in Britain and Ireland.
Forth Ports has denied claims that increased shipping activity has caused the destruction of the site and claims local tug crews “thought they saw a stoat or similar”.
The finding was rejected by the Lothian Ringing Group – local naturalists who have followed activity of the tern colony closely for 30 years.
John Davies, a member of the group said, “One mink attack doesn’t cause colony abandonment. Mink don’t leave dead birds lying about, they cache them in a hidden store and the same with eggs.”