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It has been another successful year for the reserves two nesting colonies of tern. The famous schedule 1 Little Tern that nests on the beach at Ferrybridge and the Common Tern island situated within the western end of the lagoon at Abbotsbury.

The Little Tern colony, with 24hr wardening © Angela Thomas

Little Tern wardening © Angela Thomas










With the 24 hour wardening from the RSPB and their volunteers, the Little Terns had another very successful year, with 38 pairs breeding and up to 73 chicks fledging by the end of the season. Of these fledglings, 55 were ringed with metal British Trust of Ornithology (BTO) rings and of those 55, 24 were given the larger plastic darvic ID rings, which is the highest success rate to date! Ringing the terns allows huge amounts of data to be collected, including, ages, breeding partners, where they go and the distances they travel, which is all vital information for this highly protected bird.

Little Tern XB6 with fledglings © Angela Thomas

Swan Darvic ring and Little Tern Darvic and metal BTO rings for comparison © Angela Thomas









The Common Terns that nest on the island located at Abbotsbury also had another successful breeding season. An impressive 60+ pairs nested on the island this year (as well as 6 Black-headed gull pairs) with up to 150 of the Common Tern chicks fledging. Of these 150 chicks, we successfully managed to ring an impressive 141 with metal BTO rings, a new record for the island and our Common Terns!

Common Tern adult in flight © Charlie Wheeler

Common Tern chick © Charlie Wheeler








Fledged Common Tern chicks fighting over dinner © Charlie Wheeler


All of the terns, both Little and Common have now dispersed and have left the reserve and all, including this years fledglings, have begun their long journey to western Africa to spend the winter.

Our thanks again go out to Steve Hales for his sterling work in ringing all of those terns and of course all of the voluntary hours put in by those dedicated people.

Let us hope for another successful breeding season next year.