Tyne & Wear

Farne Island birds killed as nests flooded by heavy rain

Farne Island puffins Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Puffin ground nests were flooded in the heavy rain storms

Hundreds of young seabirds have perished in heavy rain, which flooded their nests on the Farne Islands, according to the National Trust.

Arctic terns, puffins and guillemots suffered losses as almost 5in (12cm) of rain fell in 24 hours on 13 June on the islands off the Northumberland coast.

At least 300 young puffins - called pufflings - died when their ground nests were flooded, the trust said.

Baby birds are at their most vulnerable at this time of year, it added.

Ground-nesting Arctic terns were also hit by exposure of their chicks to the elements.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Arctic tern chicks also perished when rain flooded their ground nests

Gwen Potter, countryside manager for the National Trust, said: "The significant rainfall sadly caused many ground-nesting Arctic tern chicks to perish due to exposure to the elements.

"We don't know the full impact yet, but we estimate that tern numbers are likely to dip by up to 35% this year.

"We also know that 300 pufflings perished on one of the islands. Puffins are also ground-nesting birds and unfortunately their burrows flooded.

"We're continuing to monitor the wildlife on the islands closely.

"Our rangers work throughout the year to protect these special seabirds, including providing a 24-hour watch during nesting season."

The trust said climate change could be having an effect with more frequent summer storms.

Ms Potter added: "The complex effects of a changing climate on nature are becoming increasingly frequent and difficult to solve.

"We are now seeing frequent summer storms washing out nests on the Farne Islands on a regular basis and a decline in the numbers of surface-feeding species such as terns."

Earlier this year, a five-yearly puffin census was changed to an annual count amid fears climate change was affecting bird numbers on the islands.

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