A success story for RSPB Pagham Harbour

A record 164 sandwich tern chicks fledged from RSPB Pagham Harbour last year.

The harbour also saw 15 little terns fledged – one of the UK’s rarest breeding seabirds.

The RSPB said 2020 saw a huge number of threatened seabirds successfully breed along England’s south coast due to the hard work of RSPB staff and volunteers to provide and protect suitable habitats.

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Sandwich terns nest directly on the ground which puts them at a higher risk of predation, human disturbance and flooding. Because of this, they rely on nature reserves.

In 2012 the RSPB took on the management of West Sussex County Council’s Pagham Harbour nature reserve and created ‘tern island’ nesting sites, leading to a boom in their numbers. Staff have also patrolled during lockdown.

Richard Archer, RSPB conservation officer, said: “The success of our little tern numbers has led to the highest number of breeding little terns in over a decade and reflects a huge amount of planning, hard work and innovation.

“Our volunteers, operating under Covid-19 restrictions, have been fantastic.

“If they can breed successfully, little terns will often return to the same nesting beach every year, so it’s a really positive sign that the work we are doing here will support the future of these vulnerable birds.”