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Project Protecting Rare Sea Birds on Chesil Extended

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8:10am 15th May 2014

A successful project to protect rare sea birds along the Dorset coast has been hailed a success and is set to continue.

The number of little terns nesting on Chesil Beach has doubled to 25 pairs since the RSPB project began over 4 years ago.

Experts say the creation of sand patches for the birds to nest on, has allowed their eggs to stay warm in colder conditions.

Chesil Beach landowners, the Crown Estate and the Portland Court Leet have agreed to continue funding the project and protect the little terns on Chesil Beach for another year.

Morgan Vaughan (RSPB Project Officer) said the birds migrate thousands of miles to breed in Dorset;

"The little terns migrate from the West African coast to breed in Britain but are threatened by a number of factors such habitat loss, rising sea levels and predation.

They are also very susceptible to changing weather conditions which can have a noted impact on breeding success. As the only colony of little terns in the south west of England, helping guarantee the security of the Chesil breeding site through the project, which includes electric fencing, makes all the difference in fledging success for the little tern, one of the UK's rarest seabirds.

Another major factor in the terns' success has been the implementation of round the clock wardening. This is vital to minimize disturbance from predators and people who unwittingly might stray too close to these ground nesting birds."

Gary Thompson Coastal Manager at The Crown Estate said: "The little tern breeding project has grown from strength to strength over the term of the programme contributing to the native seabird population on the Dorset coast. We are delighted our sustained support through the Marine Stewardship Fund has helped the RSPB continue with this important work".

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