Terns get new home at Dunbar quarry

The completed raft with the Junior Rangers and Lafarge Tarmac quarry manager Dave Hurcombe
The completed raft with the Junior Rangers and Lafarge Tarmac quarry manager Dave Hurcombe

East Lothian Junior Rangers and the RNLI have teamed up to give terns a new home at Whitesands Quarry near Dunbar.

They have helped Lafarge Tarmac and RSPB Scotland to build and launch a new nesting raft in the regenerated quarry at Oxwellmains.

The raft, which is 16 square metres and covered in gravel, has been moored on the water body near the public viewing area that was built in 2012. The Junior Rangers, a group of 11-17 year olds set up by East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service to study conservation work and practical habitat management, were responsible for making sure the gravel on the base of the raft was the perfect depth for nesting terns.

Stuart Pirie and his team from the RNLI Dunbar station then towed the raft out and secured it in position with one of their inshore lifeboats.

Junior ranger Katie Belton, 16, said the raft showed her that projects didn’t have to take years to make a difference. “We’ve hopefully improved the habitat for terns in just a few hours. I’m looking forward to coming to the viewing area over the summer and just sitting and eating biscuits and watching the terns using the raft!”

According to RSPB Scotland’s Mike Thornton, the project officer appointed by Lafarge Tarmac to develop plans for the former quarry, tern numbers have suffered across Britain due to loss of nesting sites.

He says that in time, the raft should provide a secure nesting habitat for terns which have suffered from habitat loss and nest predation along the east coast of Scotland.

Manager at the Lafarge Tarmac Dunbar cement plant, Florin Stoiean, added: “We are working with RSPB Scotland to create a vision for restoring the quarry in a way that enhances and encourages biodiversity, and creates a great amenity for local communities.

“A year into this project, we are delighted with the ideas Mike has come up with and the way in which the area is taking shape. We would like to express our thanks to the Junior Rangers and the RNLI, and hope to see many visitors this summer to the viewing area to see the new raft.”