Of the three European marsh terns, only the Black Tern is a scarce breeding species in the Netherlands with around 1400 pairs. In the beginning of the previous century, there might have been over 20.000 breeding pairs in the Netherlands. But land reclamation and a lack of food resulted in a steep decline. Now they create artificial nesting platforms for them and with an increase in water quality, the decline has stopped.
The other two marsh terns, the White-winged Black Tern and the Whiskered Tern, are much less common in the Netherlands. Their main breeding areas are in Eastern Europe and, in case of the latter, Southern Europe. In the past decades there were some dozens of records of both species in our country, with occasionally some breeding records.
However, the past years things have changed. Somehow Whiskered Terns have discovered a polder area just south of Groningen. The past years, we’ve had around 30-40 breeding pairs of Whiskered Tern in the Kropswolderbuitenpolder, breeding in an inundated part of the polder on some vegetation. This year, they have also been found breeding in the Onlanden, my local patch. So this species is doing quite well.
Just a little further south, in the Oostpolder, some pairs of White-winged Black Terns are breeding as well, giving the rare opportunity to see all three species of marsh terns together in the Netherlands. For me, this was a nice opportunity to make a new vlog about nature in the Netherlands (unfortunately in Dutch only).