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Tern chicks boosted by new platform at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden

PUBLISHED: 16:38 03 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:29 03 July 2017

Tern chicks making use of a new platform at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden. Picture: Trevor Taberham

Tern chicks making use of a new platform at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden. Picture: Trevor Taberham

Trevor Taberham

A water garden has been given new life by the flutter of tiny wings.

Tern chicks making use of a new platform at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden. Picture: Trevor Taberham Tern chicks making use of a new platform at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden. Picture: Trevor Taberham

Nine common tern chicks, from four parents have hatched on a new floating breeding platform at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden’s broad in South Walsham.

Following the addition of the new platforms, this year’s season has seen the success rate more than quadruple for the terns, with only one pair successfully breeding last year, with just two chicks fledging.

Trevor Taberham, volunteer at Fairhaven, said: “Two years ago, five pairs of common terns tried to breed on the island in Fairhaven broad, but greylag geese wrecked the nests.

“So last year, we experimented with a single standard size pallet, attached to posts that are in middle of the broad. It attracted two pairs of common terns; one pair stayed to nest, three chicks fledged, but unfortunately one was taken by a herring gull.”

This year, a larger platform was set up in the hope of improving the breeding success rate, as well as providing extra protection for the chicks.

The platforms are fitted with small wooden structures nicknamed air raid shelters, for the chicks to hide under if a predator attacks.

The platforms are designed not only to help the birds breed, but also to survive until they can fledge.

Mr Taberham added: ”The new platform is much larger, comprising a 3x2m platform. We included ‘air raid shelters’ and a hinged ramp into the water to help keep the birds safe.

“These features are being well used by the chicks. You plan these things and hope for a successful outcome, but it has turned out better than we could have imagined.

“The common terns are working together to feed the chicks. Two adults are always on the platform looking after the chicks, while the others go off fishing.”

The platform is also being readily used by two pairs of black-headed gulls, which have also successfully bred.

“The common tern chicks will be on the platform for another three weeks, then their parents will teach then to fish for around 10 days, before heading off to West Africa,” Mr Taberham added. “The fledged chicks will remain on the broad for the rest of the summer, fattening themselves up before they take the long flight to Africa as well.”

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