Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Arctic and little terns' breeding colonies warning issued by police

Arctic tern Image copyright J Sheldon
Image caption Research shows the birds make an estimated 50,000 mile journey to breed on the Isle of Man

People have been warned not to disturb a number of "importing breeding colonies" for Arctic and little terns in the Isle of Man.

Research shows the birds migrate tens of thousands of miles from the Southern Ocean to breed on the island.

Because they nest in shallow hollows, the protected birds' eggs can easily be mistaken for stones, said police.

Terns can abandon their nests when they perceive the threat from humans or predators is too high.

Both species are classified as Schedule 1 protected birds under the Wildlife Act 1990.

Image copyright Manxscenes.com
Image caption The Point of Ayre is an important tern breeding site

The Environment Department said anyone who injures, kills or disturbs the birds could face prosecution.

Dog walkers are also asked to keep their pets on a lead in tern breeding areas.

Wildlife crime officer Mark Kerruish said colonies in the Point of Ayre and Smeale have been fenced off in order to protect the "vulnerable sites".

"Others may be introduced as the birds arrive," he added.

Wildlife experts said species including oystercatchers and ringed plovers also use the area, with 300 nests recorded between Blue Point and the Point of Ayre in 2015.

Anyone who witnesses the birds being disturbed is urged to contact the Environment Department.

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