Protecting waders pays off at Tentsmuir

18 December 2023

Measures to protect breeding ringed plover at Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve (NNR) paid off this year with a chick confirmed as fledging.

In a highlight of 2023, staff were delighted to spot the young bird after several years where no chicks had been observed on the NatureScot reserve.

Ringed plover breed along the coastline at Tentsmuir but, like many ground-nesting birds, they are vulnerable to disturbance.

To encourage nesting, staff fenced off an area of shingly dune on the foreshore near the icehouse in the summer, where a flock of around 60 ringed plovers were present.

The zoned-off area gave the birds some protection to breed while still allowing visitors to access a popular route for walkers.

NatureScot reserve manager Marijke Leith said: “We know that disturbance really affects ground-nesting birds, so we were keen this year to try and protect an area specifically for ringed plover to breed. We were really pleased that, right in the middle of this zone, a chick was successfully raised.

“One chick may not sound like a lot but we’re very hopeful, looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, that we will be able to build on this with more breeding pairs and chicks at the reserve in future.

“It also demonstrates what can be achieved when we work together to enjoy and respect nature. Visitors were still able to walk and enjoy the beach while allowing the ringed plovers a bit of space. We’d like to say a big thank you to visitors for their help in protecting these birds in 2023.”

In another 2023 highlight, the reserve recorded the first-ever sighting of a holly blue butterfly at Morton Lochs.

This distinctive bright blue butterfly is less common in Scotland but has been expanding northwards in recent years.