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Appeal to help protect one of the UK’s rarest seabirds

PUBLISHED: 16:38 26 February 2019

RSPB staff and volunteers have been working hard to protect the wellbeing of the region’s little terns. Picture: Kevin Simmonds

RSPB staff and volunteers have been working hard to protect the wellbeing of the region’s little terns. Picture: Kevin Simmonds

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Volunteers are being sought as part of an appeal to help save a rare seabird.

RSPB staff and volunteers have been working hard to protect the wellbeing of the regions little terns. Picture: RSPBRSPB staff and volunteers have been working hard to protect the wellbeing of the regions little terns. Picture: RSPB

The RSPB is calling for volunteers to protect little terns as they will soon be arriving on the Suffolk coast from their winter home in West Africa.

The little tern is one of the UK’s rarest breeding seabirds, having declined over the past 25 years as they struggle to find safe beaches to nest and feed their young.

With the East Anglian beaches home to half of the UK’s breeding population during the summer, with some of the largest colonies found in Suffolk.

The birds arrive in late April and May and return migration starts in August and continues into September.

A volunteer warden keeps an eye on the little tern colony nesting at Kessingland beach during a previous summer. Picture: James BassA volunteer warden keeps an eye on the little tern colony nesting at Kessingland beach during a previous summer. Picture: James Bass

Each summer, a team of volunteers assemble across beaches in Suffolk to support The Little Tern Recovery Project, monitoring colonies and helping beach visitors learn more about the species.

And in Waveney, volunteer little tern wardens are based at Benacre and Kessingland beaches.

A RSPB spokesman said: “From late April to the end of July, the beaches at Kessingland and Benacre are the temporary home to breeding colonies of one of Britain’s rarest and most attractive seabirds.

“Little terns travel 3,000 miles from West Africa to nest on our Suffolk beaches.

Volunteer wardens keep an eye on the little terns at Benacre Broad, which is a protected nesting area for the seabirds.Volunteer wardens keep an eye on the little terns at Benacre Broad, which is a protected nesting area for the seabirds.

“They nest on the ground and so are highly vulnerable to human disturbance. This is why the nesting sites are protected by fencing and wardened by RSPB staff and volunteers.”

The main job of the volunteer wardens is talking to other beach users about the little terns and why they need protection.

Those who are interested can also get involved in some of the group’s monitoring work, counting nests and fledglings, under the guidance of staff or experienced volunteers.

“We are looking for new people to join our volunteer team this coming season,” the RSPB spokesman added.

“You do not need expert bird knowledge; you do need to enjoy communicating with people and be able to negotiate steps down to the beach and walk some distance around the colony.”

If you would like to learn more about becoming a little tern warden, contact Sarah Gelpke via email on Sarah.Gelpke@RSPB.org.uk or call 01603 660066.

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