THIS year’s record of more than 45 Little Terns that have successfully fledged on Chesil Beach is a powerful endorsement of the hard work o local volunteers, and the positive results of the Chesil Little Tern Recovery Project.
This year’s crop of Little Tern chicks is a remarkable increase on 2021’s three fledglings, and shows the benefits of the recovery project which has been working with local charity, Hedgehog Friendly Portland, to construct an innovative hedgehog protection fence to keep both the hedgehogs and rare seabird eggs safe. Little Terns are one of the smallest and most threatened seabirds in the UK and the colony on Chesil Beach is the last in South West England.
While the colony experienced a high number of nest failures early this season, the numbers later recovered, meaning the overall fledgling count remained high and conservationists from the RSPB and its partners hope this second year ‘tern’ around in fledgling numbers will lead to growth within the breeding colony when the newest Little Tern fledglings mature into adulthood and join the other breeding pairs.
The colony’s success depends upon a team of dedicated volunteers who work around the clock to help protect the chicks. The Chesil Little Tern Recovery Project is led by the RSPB, in partnership with Crown Estate, Portland Court Leet, Chesil & Fleet Nature Reserve, Dorset Wildlife Trust and Natural England.
Pictured: Adult Little Tern feeding a chick on Chesil Beach; photograph by Angela Thomas