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Little Terns Saved At Weymouth

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12:04am 6th October 2013

Wildlife experts have hailed a new innovation that's saving a colony of birds on Chesil Beach.

Described as "small and graceful" the population of Little Terns has been rapidly declining across the country.

The colony on Chesil beach is the only one in south west England. One of the main threats to little tern colonies is predation by foxes, crows and kestrels as well as accidental disturbance from beach users. To give the birds the best chance, the Chesil beach site is both fenced and closely protected by a dedicated team of conservationists, many of whom are volunteers

Another reason for the fall on the Chesil beach conservation has been put down to the cold pebbled beach over the summer where the birds like to nest.

Tony Whitehead from the RSPB says the conditions aren't good for nesting because it's not warm enough. The tern's usually lay their eggs on sandy beaches.

Tony told Wessex FM it was the brainwave of one of their wardens that's helped bring the Little tern population on the beach back to life;

"He thought if the wind is whipping through the pebbles it's going to have this chilling effect. Most of the terns nest on sand so let's get some liners from hanging baskets, fill them with sand and see if the terns like it and they loved it. A large portion of the birds then moved into the sand and made nests to raise their chicks."

The innovation seems to have to worked too with 25 pairs born this year, compared with 21 last year, 18 in 2011 and 12 in 2010. About three quarters of the birds nested on the sand and 90% of their eggs hatched, compared to only 23% from those on pebbles.  

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