If you was a birds doing serious mileage each year, coming up from a place where food is plentiful and passing up through Africa and Europe and ending up in Shetland around mid- May only to find that a few more of your neighbors have failed to make the journey this year, would you be in a good frame of mind?
Then after settling down with your mate you managed to produce some eggs, closely guarding them from all intruders such as Skuas, gulls, rats and even otters. They hatch out and the race is on to find enough food which is hard to find most years.
These are Arctic terns who for around 20 years or so have found going difficult, numbers in Shetland being reduce from around 35,000 to around 7,000. Having traveled around 22,000 air miles a year for 15- 20 years they have not produced any young for a number of years.
This year however things are looking a lot better, perhaps the best year for 20 years, with a large number of adults bringing in large – medium sand eels for several weeks.
As a result some Juv Arctic Terns have been seen at three colonies which is a great sight. This has brought more Skuas in for a closer look but with numbers of these predators low, more terns seem to be getting back to the nest unmolested.
At the Grutness tern colony, the problems are the common gulls that nest in close attendance, also sheep and Shetland ponies roam through the nest site no doubt crushing a few eggs as they go.
Let’s hope this is a good year for all seabirds the auks need a good year but I have only seen a few young and only a few adults with fish and also there are the Kittiwakes that have also been having a poor time of it