As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Brothers guilty of reckless disturbance of Northumberland wildlife sanctuary

Coquet Island is effectively the only place that Roseate terns breed in the whole of the UK. Image credit Chris Gomersall/RSPB images


Roseate tern nesting site disturbed
January 2103. Two brothers from Amble caused illegal disturbance to a rare seabird colony in Northumberland, a court has ruled. Derwick and Leslie Ramsay were found guilty at South East Northumberland Magistrates Court of the reckless disturbance of roseate terns on the bird sanctuary Coquet Island in July 2012.

The pair were prosecuted under the 1981 Country And Wildlife Act, which forbids the intentional and or reckless killing, injuring and disturbance of wild birds. The offence carries a maximum sentence of a £5,000 fine and/or six months in prison.

Caught on CCTV
Derwick Ramsay, together with four other men who were not prosecuted, landed boats on the island on 20 July allegedly to collect whelks. They were warned about the presence of breeding roseate terns by RSPB staff but this was ignored. On 22 July, Derwick returned with his brother Leslie, who was recorded on CCTV disturbing the birds. On returning to Amble marina Derwick and Leslie, together with four other men, were arrested and their boats were seized by Northumbria Police.

The only colony of breeding roseate terns in the UK
Coquet Island holds the only colony of breeding roseate terns in the UK and as a result, landing on the island is strictly prohibited. Roseate terns are a ‘red listed' species of high conservation concern and, as a ground nesting bird, they are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance. At the time of this incident the island held 71 breeding pairs.

Alan Firth, RSPB Investigations officer, said: "Roseate terns are incredibly rare and Coquet Island is effectively the only place they breed in the whole of the UK. Any disturbance to the colony could, therefore, have a disastrous effect on the population.

"The RSPB spends a huge amount of time, money and effort every year to give roseate terns the best chance to breed. This reckless disturbance - that took place despite warnings - threatened to undermine all of the conservation efforts to protect this species.

"We would like to thank Northumbria Police and Crown Prosecution Service Prosecutor Jonathan Moore for their hard work, which helped this case result in a successful prosecution."

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