Little Tern Project

Little Tern Project

Little terns are the UK’s smallest tern and one of our rarest breeding seabirds. Weighing the same as a tennis ball, they migrate here from Africa to breed – some undertaking a journey of 5,000km.

Little terns face many pressures and are highly sensitive to disturbance.  Much like us, Little terns like beaches with sand and fine shingle, so it can be very easy to accidentally disturb them.  They also often laying them close to the high-water mark, which means they are regularly washed away if tides are big combined with stormy weather. Laying their eggs on the ground also makes them vulnerable to predation from gulls, birds of prey and mammals.

Little Tern

Little Tern with chick
Photo: Margaret Holland

Essex Wildlife Trust have been working with the RSPB to make our coastal reserves into optimum Little tern habitat.  In 2018, 6 pairs of little terns nested successfully in the Blackwater and Colne estuaries, the most we’ve had for a whole century!  By undertaking habitat management, putting up information and signage, deploying life-size decoys and installing raised features like sand lenses to encourage nesting, we are giving the Little terns the best chance of success.