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Little Tern Recovery Project

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Little Tern Photo: Kevin Simmonds

Little terns are the second-rarest seabird that breeds in the UK. They migrate to Africa for the winter and return to the Northumberland coast to breed each spring.

The little tern recovery project is a five-year project funded by Life+ Nature and led by RSPB. It aims to increase the number of little terns successfully breeding at project sites and raise awareness of the habitat requirements of the species and what beach-goers can do to help.

Northumberland Little Tern Project

In Northumberland we have a sub-project – The Northumberland Little Terns Project and the AONB Partnership take a lead role here.

We have two main project sites, Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve and the National Trust Long Nanny Site in Beadnell Bay. 

Our Visiting seabird colonies page provides inforamtion about where to see little terns

EU Life+ Nature can only fund work carried out within Natura 2000 sites where little tern is a named species. We have had therefore had to seek other funding for work outside of these sites, such as Druridge Bay.

Work has already been done to improve the physical protection of the sites from humans and predators, Rangers also talk to hundreds of visitors to the sites each season. Through the shorebird wardens project (part of the Lindisfarne Peregrini Landscape Partnership), we have been able to increase personally and survey work at Lindisfarne.

The Northumberland partners are:

UK Project

The project partners successfully applied to the EU LIFE+ Nature fund, and over the next five years will be able to call on funds of €3.2m (£2.5m), 50 percent funded by the European Union and 50 percent funded from contributions by the partners.

Project objectives

  • Increase the total population of little terns across the Project colony sites through enhanced management of existing breeding sites and restoration and creation of new or recently abandoned sites.
  • Protection of little terns and their nests and eggs from threats such as disturbance and predation.
  • Improve the understanding of little tern population and movements (demography) by undertaking a colour ringing programme to inform long-term conservation strategies.
  • Monitoring using standardised recording across sites to measure the success of the breeding attempts and feed this back to help inform each successive annual summer work programme.
  • Local communities and other interested parties will learn about the struggles of this scarce seabird, helping to raise support for the work at the UK colonies.
  • Build up our knowledge and best practice case studies by increased networking with other relevant projects in the UK, Europe and North America.
  • Work with statutory agencies and local authorities to find ways to support little tern conservation and extend the protection measures when appropriate

Project Website

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