Geodome will help protect east coast’s Little Tern breeding colony

The welcome is set to be a little warmer for visitors to the little tern colony at Winterton this ye

The welcome is set to be a little warmer for visitors to the little tern colony at Winterton this year thanks to a new 'geodome'.An appeal has been launched for volunteers to help keep a watchful eye. - Credit: Archant

A bird charity is ramping up its welcome to visitors at one of its most important seaside sites with a new “geodome” offering shelter and information.

The RSPB rolls out the red carpet every year for little terns, a rare seabird which currently seems to prefer Winterton’s shingly shore to raise its young.

The small, chattering birds travel 3000 miles from West Africa in April and May to breed on local beaches, but face a raft of threats.

Last year a sandstorm wiped out virtually all the chicks with natural predators and human disturbance a constant worry for wardens and round-the-clock volunteers.

To minimise problems and signpost the colony the charity is putting up a temporary welfare and visitor structure on the beach.

As well as helping visitors to understand more about the birds the dome-like tent will offer a refuge from the weather to volunteers as an appeal is launched for more people to keep a watchful eye.

The East Anglian coast is home to half of the UK’s breeding population during the summer, with some of the largest colonies found in Norfolk.

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The birds arrive in April and May and return migration starts in August and continues into September.

Each summer, a team of volunteer little tern wardens assembles across the beaches of Norfolk to support The Little Tern Recovery Project.

Subject to planning consent a team of volunteers will be stationed at the new geodome located on Winterton beach and funded by Norfolk Coast AONB Sustainable Development Fund.

Danny Hercock, little tern project officer, said: “With over half of the UK breeding population making a home in East Anglia, little terns rely on our help here in the East. Our busy beaches are one of the only suitable places left in the UK for little terns to raise their family each year.

“When nesting, these little birds are easily disturbed by people and vulnerable to predators such as crows and foxes. We are also seeing an increase in severe weather events on our coast which add to their troubles.

“Each year we recruit a team of volunteers to provide special protection for the birds on the East coast who help us to monitor the birds and help beach visitors understand how to make room for the birds during the crucial nesting and breeding season.”

Roger Potter, volunteer little tern warden at Winterton, added: “I’ve been wardening for seven years now, seeing my first chick at the colony in 2010 had me hooked. Little terns are my favourite sea bird, they are real characters and beautiful to watch as they fish just twenty yards off shore.

“I’m a really sociable person and love spending my days at the beach talking to visitors about little terns and how we can all make sure we look after them as they build their nests and raise their young on our beaches.”

Around 25 volunteers are needed. No specific skills are required as all training will be provided.

The project is currently looking for volunteers to help at sites in and around Great Yarmouth and Winterton.

To find out more contact Daniel Hercock on 01493 700645 or via daniel.hercock@rspb.org.uk.