Discover Beautiful Coquet Island
Lying just one mile off the coast at Amble, Coquet Island is an RSPB nature reserve. It is a safe haven for over 30,000 pairs of seabirds, some who travel from Africa to nest there. The island is protected under European Law for birds such as the roseate tern, one of our rarest nesting seabirds. Coquet Island now holds 90% of the UK’s roseate tern population.
History of the Island
The island has been occupied since the 7th Century initially as a monastic cell, then later as a lighthouse station and now it’s occupied by RSPB wardens who live on the island throughout the spring and summer. Birds are everywhere on Coquet Island and the walls and gardens are home to several hundred nesting Eider Ducks.
For this reason, the island is designated as a sanctuary and the public are not allowed to land on it. Even when the local TV personality Robson Green sailed across in a kayak from Amble, he still wasn’t allowed to step foot on the island! It is however still possible to view Roseate and other Terns and seabirds at the Northumberland Seabird Centre on the Amble Quayside, which has a CCTV system with a live feed.
You can also take a boat trip around the island on a charter boat licenced by the RSPB to enjoy a close up view of the birds. The boat trips run from the Amble Quayside all year round subject to weather and tidal conditions. See below for more details on the boat cruises.
The Birds of Coquet Island
Puffins arrive in March and April, which are the most loved bird in Amble and even have a festival named after them at the end of May! (See more information at the bottom of the page). Thousands of pairs nest underground in old rabbit burrows, each rearing a single puffin. In August, some leave for the North and others head South to the Bay of Biscay. Since the time of St. Cuthbert, Eiders – the heaviest and yet fastest-flying ducks in the UK – have sought refuge here. They pluck their downy breast feathers to line their nests where they can lay up to eight eggs.
Fulmars add to the diversity of wildlife on the island. They are less attached to the mainland than most other seabird species and forage far out to sea. Kittiwakes congregate in the spring and their sites are crowded with birds and the nests are usually placed on ledges or in crevices. So narrow are these crevices that the nests appear to be in danger of blowing away.
Arctic, Common and Sandwich Terns also nest on Coquet Island, mostly in cleared areas amongst the nettles surrounding the lighthouse. In August and September, they too make the long journey to Africa before returning the following spring.
Roseate Terns are the UK’s rarest seabirds and a globally declining species, which have found a safe haven on Coquet Island. Fewer than 80 pairs nest there, yet they represent more than 90% of the UK population. They summer on Coquet Island before starting their marathon migration for the warmer winter weather of Africa, giving a unique opportunity to see one of Europe’s rarest birds.
The Common Tern nests regularly on Coquet Island around the late summer, then they make the return journey to Africa until the spring.
Boat Trips around Coquet Island
Dave Gray’s Puffin Cruises is a family run business operating boat trips out to Coquet Island sailing from the dock steps at Amble harbour. They have been running for over 40 years taking tourists to see the beautiful bird paradise just 1 mile from the harbour.
A grey seal colony also stays at the island all year round can be seen on the east side of the island. The island’s rich marine life can be viewed aboard the two vessels.
Click HERE to visit their website. It is recommended you booked in advance of your holiday as they get very busy during nesting season.