RSPB appeals for volunteers to help save little terns

RSPB Little terns

RSPB Little terns - Credit: Archant

An appeal has been launched for volunteers in Suffolk to help save a rare seabird.

RSPB Little terns

RSPB Little terns - Credit: Archant

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

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

The East Anglian coast is 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 April and May and return migration starts in August and continues into September.

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

Volunteer little tern wardens are based at Benacre and Kessingland beaches.

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Fabienne Fossez, RSPB little tern project officer, said: 'With over half of the UK breeding population making a home in East Anglia, little terns rely on our help here in the east.

'Our busy beaches are some of the best places left in the UK for little terns to raise their family each year. When nesting, these little birds are easily disturbed by people and vulnerable to predators such as crows and foxes. Each year we recruit a team of volunteers to provide special protection for the birds on the east coast who help us to monitor the birds and help beach visitors understand how to make room for the birds during the crucial nesting and breeding season.'

Volunteering at a little tern colony provides an opportunity to meet new people and be part of a small team working on some of the most beautiful beaches in the east.

No specific skills are required as training will be provided. The project is looking for volunteers to help at RSPB and Natural England Suffolk sites at Benacre and Kessingland.

If you'd like to help, contact Annette Salkeld, RSPB North Suffolk Coast Reserves Warden, on 01728 648780 or email

Help little terns this summer

A team of volunteer little tern wardens support the Little Tern Recovery Project every summer, by helping on Suffolk beaches where these special birds make their homes.

Thanks to funding from the EU LIFE+ Nature Programme and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB's Touching the Tide project, the Little Tern Recovery Project is helping ensure the little terns have a successful trip to the coast.

The volunteers will be stationed at Benacre and Kessingland, monitoring the little tern colonies.

Linda Clapp, volunteered as a little tern warden last year at Kessingland. She said: 'I love being a little tern warden, and feel like the birds are part of the family! They have such a distinctive chattering sound, and make little noises when they are on the beach - I miss them when they're gone.

'I love spending my days be the sea, and talking to beach visitors about little terns.'

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