Sandwich tern chicks have survived on Brownsea Island this season, thanks to the vigilance of Dorset Wildlife Trust wardens. These graceful gull-like sea birds, with long pointed wings and deeply forked tails, come each year to nest on the lagoon. After a poor breeding record in 2010, when only 3 chicks fledged successfully, Sandwich terns this year have fledged about 30 young.
How did the Wardens protect the chicks?
A watchful eye was kept by the wardens at the reserve to ward off predators that take the young chicks, the heron being one of the main offenders. Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Brownsea Island Manager, Chris Thain, is responsible for the nature reserve covering around half of the National Trust owned island. He said: “One expects a certain amount of predation, but we were determined to try to improve on last year, when so many chicks were lost. We have been taking it in turns to sleep in the hide that overlooks the lagoon. When we heard the alarm calls of the terns, a torch was enough to scare off an intruding heron. This seems to have been effective and the numbers of terns fledging has improved.”
How are Dorset Wildlife Trust improving Brownsea for the terns?
Other measures taken to protect the terns this year include fencing off one of the man-made nesting islands to prevent mammals, especially deer, from trampling the nests. Although Brownsea is free of many mammal predators, it does have rats and the occasional otter. Sandwich terns, which have amber status as birds of conservation concern, depend largely on nature reserves for breeding sites in the UK. Following work to provide the right habitat for the terns by Dorset Wildlife Trust wardens and volunteers, the population has grown from only 6 pairs in the 1960s to the busy colony we see today.
Common terns, recognisable by their red bills, also nest on the lagoon. Early indications are that this has not been a good season for them, with only 16 fledged so far. Around 50 pairs have laid a second clutch of eggs, so final results are not yet available. Both species of tern will leave Dorset at the end of the summer to spend the winter in Africa.
How can I get involved?
There are good views of all the birds from the Macdonald hide in the Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve. The reserve is open daily, with access via regular boats from Sandbanks, Poole and Bournemouth.For more information visit click here.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Nicky Hoar at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
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The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) www.wildlifetrusts.org
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK and the Isle of Man and Alderney. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.
Manager Chris Thain Warden Abby Gibbs Simon King in the new Macdonald Hide- Debbie Dye
Sandwich tern chick on Brownsea Island - Phyl England