Little terns still struggling for survival in Norfolk stronghold
- Credit: Kevin Simmonds
Norfolk's coast continues to play a crucial role in the conservation of a rare seabird.
Scolt Head Island was home to one of the UK's largest colonies of little terns this year, consisting of 173 breeding pairs and 53 chicks. Blakeney was home to 61 pairs of little terns but saw just nine chicks survive after many of the nests were raided by large gulls and a kestrel.
The vulnerable sea bird travels from West Africa to breed on the UK coast each year.
National Trust ranger Ajay Tegala said: 'Whilst the National Trust put lots of effort into involving volunteers to reduce visitor and dog disturbance, during some years, predation of young chicks by large gulls and birds of prey has a significant negative impact on breeding success.'
The little tern is one of the UK's rarest seabirds, declining by 27pc over the past 28 years.
The tiny chattering birds travel a 6,000 mile round trip each year to breed on the beaches of the British Isles, but their numbers have been declining as they struggle to find safe beaches on which to nest and feed their young, free from disturbance and severe weather events.
Phil Pearson, senior conservation officer with the RSPB, said: 'If we can boost the breeding success across all of our UK little tern colonies, the overall population has a real chance of recovery.
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'However, the struggles in our North Norfolk colonies show that predators and other environmental factors can seriously affect the little tern's fortunes, so it is also crucial that we keep working hard to maintain and create more suitable breeding grounds to allow the population to spread out across our coast.'