Orford Ness aims to halt gull decline


A Suffolk nature reserve is working to reverse the decline of Lesser Black-backed Gull after recording its lowest number of the species last year.

Orford Ness have recruited two new gull officers to help address the decline. Emma Hay, nature conservation specialist for the National Trust, said: "We need to do more to protect them."

Lesser Black-backed Gulls have declined at Orford Ness (Mike Trew).

She explained that human activity could have contributed to the decline. "It's not clear why numbers dropped so dramatically and there will have been a number of factors at play leading to this decline, including an increase in human activity on the site over the last 20 years," she said.

"Disturbance has almost certainly affected nesting gull numbers, despite careful visitor management. In recent years we've seen numbers dwindle even further, which means we need to do more to protect them."

The newly appointed 'gull officers' will work along the reserve to protect breeding areas and increase public awareness of the birds and their habitats. Last year 210 breeding pairs were identified at the reserve.

Reuben Denton-Beasley, one of the gull officers, said: "I'll be working with the local community to raise awareness and help spread the word about the importance of protecting the breeding sites. Gulls are an integral part of Britain's costal wildlife and should be protected as much as any other species."

The officers have been funded by the Galloper Offshore Wind Farm project, which is located off the Suffolk coast.