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Records broken in mixed season

PUBLISHED: 16:22 28 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:38 05 July 2010

RECORDS have been broken in a mixed season for breeding birds at a north Suffolk nature reserve.

At the RSPB's Minsmere reserve, near Southwold, record numbers of stone curlews, booming bitterns and little terns have been breeding and the first ever pair of nesting arctic terns was recorded at the site.

RECORDS have been broken in a mixed season for breeding birds at a north Suffolk nature reserve.

At the RSPB's Minsmere reserve, near Southwold, record numbers of stone curlews, booming bitterns and little terns have been breeding and the first ever pair of nesting arctic terns was recorded at the site.

In total, 102 species were recorded nesting at Minsmere in 2008, including 86 pairs of common terns and 41 pairs of little terns on the beach which raised at least 33 young.

The sand martin, which is one of the most popular nesting species at the reserve, has had a successful year with 182 active burrows counted outside the tearoom over the summer despite failing to breed for the last two years.

One of the most significant successes was an increase to three pairs of stone curlews at Minsmere, the highest total since these rare nocturnal birds re-colonised the reserve in 2003, and they raised six young this season.

At the same time, the heavy rainfall in spring had a detrimental effect on birds living on the nearby reedbeds. Despite an increase to 11 male booming bitterns at Minsmere, only seven nested and there was a fall in the number of sedge warblers.

Although 15 marsh harrier pairs nested on the reserve, they fledged fewer young than in previous years and no spotted flycatchers nested this year.

RSPB spokesman Ian Barthorpe said: “We are especially pleased with the success of Minsmere's little terns and stone curlews. With better weather next spring, maybe we could break further records in 2009.

“The wet spring weather caused problems for some species, but despite that this was one of the best breeding seasons on record. Many scarce species have clearly benefited from the RSPB's management work.

“At the same time, many once familiar species are struggling to cope with changes in the wider countryside and the effects of climate change. The plight of turtle doves and spotted flycatchers is of particular concern.”

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