Nature reserve sees best breeding season for rare little terns for 25 years - National Trust

Little tern ©National Trust Images/Ian Ward
Little tern ©National Trust Images/Ian Ward

One of the UK’s few remaining little tern colonies has had its most successful season for 25 years thanks to a lack of disturbance, few predators and a helping of luck.

Nesting pairs of little terns fledged over 200 chicks at Blakeney Point, a four-mile shingle spit off the north Norfolk coast cared for by the National Trust.

The news comes as a welcome boost to the seabird, which has been in serious decline nationally since the 1980s, with fewer than 2,000 pairs now left in the UK.

Rangers counted 154 pairs of little terns nesting over the summer months and 201 chicks - the most since 1994.

Common terns had a similarly successful year, with 289 pairs fledging at least 170 chicks, the most since 1999. Rangers believe the dramatic increase may have been a result of wet weather in June which flooded common tern colonies elsewhere leading the birds to relocate to Blakeney.

Sandwich terns were late arrivals to the site but arrived in high numbers, almost triple that of the previous year.

National Trust Countryside Manager Chris Bielby said: “Blakeney Point is part of a network of nesting sites for terns and plays a vital role in the survival of these summer migrants. Little terns have been rapidly declining in the UK for the past few decades, so it’s particularly rewarding to see so many of these tiny seabirds fledging the nest. The species is still very much at risk and we’ll need to keep up our efforts to make sure they have safe places to breed. But for now, it’s good to be able to celebrate a successful season given what a challenging year 2020 has been.”

Posted on: 14 December 2020

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