Life on Coquet Island

Helen Mark visits Coquet Island, a sanctuary for some of Britain's rarest nesting sea birds. It's also home to the world's first 'puffin piano'...

Coquet Island is an RSPB reserve which due to the rarity of some of its winged visitors, is protected under European Law and no-one is allowed to set foot on it without special permission. There's no running water and no mains electricity, but every summer a small, dedicated team of wardens and volunteers lead by Paul Morrison take up residence on Coquet Island to ensure that the thousands of birds who migrate there will thrive and live secularly for the duration of their stay, including Britain's rarest nesting sea bird, the roseate tern.

Just a mile off the coast of Amble, Northumberland, the reserve is also rich in human history and has been occupied since the 7th Century, initially as a monastic cell and later a lighthouse station. The buildings now provide simple accommodation for those who come to care for the birds. There's no running water or mains power but should they become stranded, assistant warden Wesley Davies has created a board game called 'Coquet-opoly' to while away the hours... and that's not all...

Many thousands of nesting Sandwich, Arctic and common terns accompany the roseates in May, June and July, whilst thousands of puffins occupy the main part of the island - and this year they will be treated to their own, fully functioning piano...

Each year Wesley creates new items for these naturally curious creatures to play with (there's also been an Olympic stadium and a pirate ship), the filming of which feeds into social media outlets to raise awareness about the valuable conservation work that takes place on Coquet to protect this precious environment.

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25 minutes

Last on

Sat 17 May 2014 06:07