Flying fence ready after Little Tern no-show in Great Yarmouth

WARDENS and volunteers along the Great Yarmouth coastline are gearing up to protect one of Britain's rarest seabirds using a 'flying fence' after last year's surprise no-show.

Work will start today when RSPB wardens erect a protective electrified fence on North Denes beach in Great Yarmouth ahead of the anticipated arrival of a colony of Little Terns.

The birds have nested at North Denes beach since 1986, where the RSPB has provided round-the-clock protection with a fence and dedicated wardens.

However, last year, for the first time and for unknown reasons, the rare birds moved away from the large nesting site at North Denes and nested in smaller colonies spread along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.

In response, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership has helped to obtain funding for a 'flying fence' that can be moved around the coastline to guard nesting little terns in any location. The fence can be split apart and adapted to fit multiple smaller colonies or several larger colonies.

Despite the hiccup of 2010, RSPB wardens and volunteers are preparing the beach at North Denes in the expectation that Little Terns, who number around 500, will return.

RSPB warden, Daniel Hercock, said: 'We're confident that the little terns will return to breed on the Norfolk coast, but we just don't know where they'll decide to nest this year.

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'We'll be scouring the coastline for the next few weeks to see where they arrive. Wherever they decide to go, we're ready to protect them with the help of partner organisations, local volunteers and the new flying fence.'

The Norfolk coastline is a stronghold for breeding little terns, supporting at least one third of the national population.

Other conservation groups, including Natural England, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the National Trust, and Norfolk Coast Partnership are also taking part in the joint effort to protect these rare birds across the whole Norfolk coastline.

The RSPB is urging the public to help by reporting any sightings of nesting Little Terns to the RSPB on 01603 660 066.

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