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RSPB staff erect fence to protect terns

PUBLISHED: 16:44 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:04 03 July 2010

PROTECTION: Terns will now have protection on Winterton beach

PROTECTION: Terns will now have protection on Winterton beach

VOLUNTEERS and staff from the RSPB and Natural England will be working hard today, erecting a fence on a beach to protect the country's largest colony of little terns, as they lay their vulnerable eggs.

VOLUNTEERS and staff from the RSPB and Natural England will be working hard today, erecting a fence on a beach to protect the country's largest colony of little terns, as they lay their vulnerable eggs.

Natural England staff will be putting up a fence to protect little terns at Winterton Dunes in the same week. It is hoped the joint efforts of the RSPB, Natural England and Great Yarmouth Borough Council will once again help these legally protected sea birds to recover from the worrying declines of recent years.

Every May, around 300 pairs of little terns make the arduous journey from Africa to build their nests in the sand on Yarmouth's North Denes beach and Winterton Dunes National Nature Reserve.

North Denes hosts the largest breeding colony of little terns in Britain, with around 10pc of the UK population choosing to nest at this site.

Little terns build their nests on the open beach, where their wonderfully camouflaged eggs are vulnerable to accidental trampling. The fences protect the eggs from trampling and reduce disturbance and predation.

This year, the protection scheme will benefit from a grant of £6,495 from energy company RWE npower. Amongst other costs, this funding will help to purchase new equipment for monitoring the birds and materials for building the fence.

Steve Scott, RWE npower's Yarmouth Power Station manager, said: “We're delighted to support this project which will both help protect this particular species, and also encourage diversity in our local environment.”

The borough council has once again given permission for the fence to be extended down to the average high tide line to minimise disturbance to the colony.

The rare birds also receive round-the-clock protection from a team of RSPB and Natural England wardens and volunteers, who will take turns to patrol the colonies night and day to ward off foxes, hedgehogs, cats and other predators.

In recent years, the little terns have suffered a series of setbacks due to predation, vandalism, disturbance and problems with food supply - though numbers of birds are expected to be high this year thanks to a bumper breeding season in 2006.

The encroachment of marram grass into their sand and shingle nest site is also squeezing the little terns into a smaller area each year. It is hoped that by extending the fence down to the sea the little terns will have more space in which to build their nests with minimum disturbance.

Local volunteers play an essential role in helping visitors to view the charming birds without disturbing and alarming them. To help protect the vulnerable little terns, visitors are requested to report to the RSPB information cabin on North Denes beach where wardens and volunteers will be on hand to chat to visitors.

There will be a series of guided walks at North Denes during the season.

For information about viewing the birds, volunteering at the colony, or coming on a guided walk, please contact the RSPB on 01603 715191.


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