Photography by David Woodfall
Little terns are the second-rarest seabird in the UK and Ireland and possibly the best indicator of Climate Change that there is. David Woodfall is a photographer who has been following the fortunes of this very special bird since 1978. His new exhibition documents the challenges they face and what is being done to help them and continues Taigh Chearsabhagh’s Fragility of Flight series of environmental themed programming.
Little terns feed in shallow seawater on sand eels, and are unable to dive much more than a foot underwater. As the sea warms up, sand eels swim deeper seeking cooler water, and little terns can no longer reach their major food source. The changing climate will therefore determine the future distribution of these elegant birds. Known as sea swallows, they generally nest on beaches, sand spits and pebble beaches, but in the Outer Hebrides they nest on machair, often laying two to three camouflaged eggs amongst the strips of cultivated oats or potatoes in this flower-rich habitat.
Once little terns finish their breeding cycles they return to West Africa where they spend the winter returning in late April every year to begin their breeding cycle over again. Whilst their future as a breeding species in Britain and Ireland is uncertain, we have learnt a great deal about the breeding biology, ways to help protect their breeding success, and ways in which the community can be involved to help protect these resilient little birds. In the Outer Hebrides SNH, the RSPB, crofting associations and crofters work together to ensure that these rare birds remain part of North West Scotland’s fabric of coastal ecosystems.
Preview – Friday 2nd March, 7.30pm
Talk – Saturday 3rd March, 1pm
All welcome, Free