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East Anglia Future 50

RSPB seeks volunteers to protect little terns on the Suffolk coast this summer

PUBLISHED: 19:00 18 March 2019 | UPDATED: 19:05 18 March 2019

Nesting little tern with young  Picture: Kevin Simmonds

Nesting little tern with young Picture: Kevin Simmonds

C. k.simmonds123@btinternet.com

The little tern is one of the UK's rarest seabirds having suffered a serious decline in numbers over the past 30 years.

Parent little tern feeding young  Picture: @SpinkybirdParent little tern feeding young Picture: @Spinkybird

The beaches of East Anglia hold around 30% of the national population of little terns, and during the summer months Suffolk is a stronghold for little terns when they nest on the beaches at Kessingland and Benacre.

But it is because these tiny chattering birds nest directly on the beaches that their nests and chicks are extremely vulnerable to human disturbance, predators and high tides. However, thanks to the work of a dedicated team of volunteers during recent years, population numbers on these beaches are increasing, though the wildlife charity says there is still work to do to secure their future.

The RSPB is looking for volunteers to help manage little tern colonies at Kessingland and Benacre, and will train volunteers to raise awareness with beach visitors, and monitor and protect the nests and young during the summer season (April to August).

Younf Little tern   Picture: Lyn IbbitsonYounf Little tern Picture: Lyn Ibbitson

RSPB little tern project manager Ian Robinson, said: “Each year we recruit an amazing team of volunteers to provide special protection for little terns on the east coast during the summer months. In 2018 alone, 51 volunteers contributed over 1,800 hours to the little tern recovery project in Norfolk and Suffolk.

“The work of volunteers to protect nesting birds from predators, high tides, and disturbance from people keeps a small area of coast safe for this incredible seabird and ensures that adult little terns and their fledglings successfully migrate from the Suffolk coast to make a 3,000 mile journey to West Africa where they spend the winter.”

The RSPB says volunteers do not need expert bird knowledge but they do need to enjoy communicating with people, be able to negotiate steps down to the beach and walk some distance around the colony and be willing to be outdoors in all weather conditions. Volunteers can choose which activities they would prefer to be involved in and will be able to meet other like-minded people and learn more about conservation in the area.

Adult little tern feeding chick  Picture: Lyn IbbitsonAdult little tern feeding chick Picture: Lyn Ibbitson

Email: Sarah.Gelpke@RSPB.org.uk for more information.

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