PICTURES: Toilet tern ‘Lulu’ takes up testing nest spot

Desperate birdwatchers visiting the Farne Islands’ toilets face an unexpected tern – with a rare bird nesting just inches overhead.

An Arctic tern, which will have arrived on the remote Northumberland islands from the Antarctic in May, is incubating two eggs in the grooves of the toilet’s clear corrugated plastic roof.

Toilet tern 2 CREDIT Jen Clark, National Trust LO

An Arctic tern has built her nest on the clear plastic roof of the Farne Islands’ ladies toilet. National Trust rangers on the remote Northumberland islands have nicknamed her ‘Lulu’. CREDIT: Jen Clark/National Trust

Jen Clark, National Trust ranger, said: “It might be that she’s seen the groove in the plastic as a great place to lay her eggs. Terns like to scrape out a cup shape for their nest.

“It might be potty, but the staff are loving it. That block has three toilets in a row, but everyone’s using the two that have the best view of the tern.

“We’re calling her ‘Lulu’.”

Toilet tern 1 CREDIT Jen Clark, National Trust LO

Toilet tern 3 CREDIT Jen Clark, National Trust LO

CREDIT: Jen Clark/National Trust

It’s not the first time the island’s wildlife has taken up home in the toilets on Inner Farne.

Jen added: “We get an eider duck that nests against the toilet wall. The ducklings only just hatched and we had to lower a fence to help them off the nest.”

The National Trust has cared for the islands since 1925. Set a mile off the Northumberland coast, the islands have been protected for 189 years and are one of Britain’s oldest nature reserves. They are home to more than 96,000 pairs of seabirds, including puffins, arctic terns and eider ducks.

PICTURES: New arrival for ‘Ronald’ the Farne Islands shag

An egg belonging to a Farne Islands shag christened ‘Ronald’ by a Year 4 class from Gateshead has hatched.
Sarah Lawrence, National Trust ranger on the remote Northumberland islands, said: “Ronald nests right next to the main jetty on Staple Island. He’s probably the most photographed shag on the island.”
Ronald the shag CREDIT Sarah Lawrence, National Trust

Ronald the shag sitting on top of ‘his’ nest on the Farne Islands, Northumberland. Credit: Sarah Lawrence/National Trust

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Embleton Bay crowned BBC Countryfile Magazine’s beach of the year

BBC Countryfile Magazine readers have crowned Embleton Bay their beach of the year.

More than 56,000 readers voted in the poll that saw the Northumberland beach, which has been cared for by the National Trust since 1961, win the beach of the year category.

View of Dunstanburgh Castle from the north West The view shows the sand dunes on Embleton Beach in evening sunlight with the ruins of the 14th century stronghold visible in the distance

View of Dunstanburgh Castle from the north West The view shows the sand dunes on Embleton Beach in evening sunlight with the ruins of the 14th century stronghold visible in the distance. Credit: National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

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Hydropower returns to Cragside and lights up history

A new Archimedes screw at Cragside in Northumberland will harness the power of water to relight this grand Victorian house just as its previous owner Lord Armstrong did back in 1878. Continue reading

Latest on ship run aground at Farne Islands

An 80m long ship that ran aground on the Farne Islands on Saturday morning remains stranded but in a stable position, National Trust rangers who look after the wildlife haven said.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is handling the salvage operation, said there was no fuel leak from the MV Danio after it hit rocks on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast at 4.30am on Saturday.

It is anticipated that an attempt will made to tow the boat in the next two weeks when weather conditions are the most appropriate.

The National Trust is working closely with the salvage team and is optimistic that the boat can be safely removed without any environmental damage. 

The Trust’s local management team will continue to monitor the situation closely and are in full co-operation with the relevant authorities.

David Steel, the National Trust’s head ranger for the Farnes, told the Press Association: “We got lucky.

“The birds are not back and there does not seem to be any damage to the ship, so we got away with it.

“The Farnes are internationally-important for nesting sea birds. We have 80,000 pairs of sea birds including 37,000 pairs of puffins.”

Follow David and the team on the Farne Islands blog or on Twitter @NTsteely.