About the Little Tern Project

Little Tern Chesil Beach RSPB main

Little Tern Chesil Beach © RSPB

The Chesil Beach Little Tern project

The crash in numbers of breeding birds led to the creation of the Chesil Beach Little Tern Project.  This is a partnership project managed by the RSPB, supported by Dorset Wildlife Trust, Natural England, The Portland Court Leet, the Crown Estate & the Chesil Bank and Fleet Nature Reserve. 

The project concentrates on protecting the colony from predators and reducing disturbance. Before the birds arrive, an electric fence is erected around the colony to keep out foxes and a hide is constructed. Wardens and volunteers monitor the birds around the clock and scare off avian predators, especially kestrels and gulls. They also keep track of the Little Terns progress and behaviour.

Before 2013, a high proportion of the eggs weren’t hatching, and it was suspected that this was due to chilling – Chesil Beach is very drafty!  The wardens tried putting down sand patches to insulate the eggs and this dramatically increased hatching success. Installing sand patches is now a regular part of the project – the majority of birds select sand patches to nest on, and sand is placed under any that have nested straight on the pebbles.


Volunteers are essential for this project to succeed. If you would like to volunteer please get in touch with kevin.rylands@rspb.org.uk

Read more information about volunteering here



Tel: 01305 206191


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Chesil Beach Centre, Portland Beach Road, Portland, Dorset. DT4 9XE


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