Important bird habitat will reopen to visitors after shutting due to avian flu

An internationally-important seabird colony is to reopen to visitors this spring after it was shut due to avian flu.

Visitor boats will be able to land on the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, for the first time in two years from March 25.

Around 200,000 seabirds, including puffins, Arctic terns, and kittiwakes make their home on the Farnes, which are run by the National Trust and are a National Nature Reserve.

Farne Islands puffin census
For the last two years visitors could only watch the wildlife from boat trips (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Two years ago the colony was hit hard by avian flu, with rangers collecting more than 6,000 dead birds.

In 2023, the disease was still present but the numbers of dead fell by around 40%, giving hope that the birds were developing some immunity.

Bird flu
National Trust rangers worked hard last year to protect the birds from flu (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Nature-lovers could still watch the wildlife from boat trips, but were not allowed to land, and now that restriction will be lifted next month.

Rangers will continue to monitor the islands for signs of bird flu and could restrict landings again later in the breeding season.

Farne Islands puffin census
The puffins are a firm favourite for many visitors (Owen Humphreys/PA)

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