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Little Terns nest successfully at Outer Harbour
Tue 14 Aug 2012

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An internationally rare bird, the Little Tern, has nested successfully at the Outer Harbour in Wells next-the-sea, North Norfolk. Fifteen pairs made nests on the eastern shingle bank which shelter the pontoons at the Outer Harbour, that was first created three years ago to support boats servicing the Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm. There are less than two thousand pairs of Little Terns in the whole country. Common Terns, Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover, another threatened species, also successfully raised young at the site. At least six young Little Terns had fledged successfully by the end of July, and a few more chicks were still being fed by their parents in early August.

Robert Smith, Harbour Master at Wells says: “We are delighted that a bird colony has developed on the Outer Harbour bank and we thank all visitors and harbour users for respecting the signs asking people to keep away during the nesting season. Wells Harbour Commissioners have funded careful monitoring of nesting terns around the Harbour for the past three summers because concerns were raised that boat and dredging operations might disturb them, or affect their food supplies. As it turns out the Outer Harbour seems to have proved a boon to the terns, providing a safe new nesting place, they are not bothered about the boats or the dredging. They are also catching abundant sandeels in the creeks and channels. This shows we can accommodate wind farm developments and protect the natural heritage of the Harbour”.

Birdwatchers can easily observe the Little and Common Terns from the main public path running towards the Lifeboat House, and the terns can often be seen fishing in the Outer Harbour itself.

A full survey report will be published in the autumn but initial indications are that most terns trying to nest on the other shingle ridges round the Harbour suffered predation, bad weather and high tides and were less successful.

The Little Tern is predominantly white with a black top to the head and a yellow and black bill. It is smallest of the terns found in North Norfolk. Weighing only about 50 grammes these birds migrate as far as West Africa in the winter – one ringed Norfolk bird was recorded in Senegal – and are a closely protected species.

Contact: Chris Rose at the Harbour Office 01328 711646

Common Terns and chick August 2012
Common Terns and chick August 2012

Common Terns and Little Terns on nests May 2012
Common Terns and Little Terns on nests May 2012

Little Tern chick August 2012
Little Tern chick August 2012

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