Help boost a campaign to protect rare Terns by having a 'wildlife experience'

Dorset Echo: FEEDING TIME: Little terns nesting at Ferrybridge near Weymouth FEEDING TIME: Little terns nesting at Ferrybridge near Weymouth

A CAMPAIGN to protect rare seabirds in Dorset is being given a boost with the offer of some ‘wildlife experiences’.

Chesil Beach is the only location of a breeding colony of little terns in the South West.

Numbers had dropped to as low as 10 breeding pairs, but they have increased recently due to habitat work from local conservationists.

The project to restore the colony is managed by the RSPB and supported by Chesil and Fleet Nature Reserve, Natural England, Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) and the EU PANACHE Interreg Project.

The Crown Estate has extended funding for another year through its Marine Stewardship Fund and it has been matched by The Portland Court Leet.

Now DWT’s Chesil Beach Centre is hosting a fundraising evening and wildlife experiences auction to raise money to protect the birds, which are the second rarest seabirds in the country.

Funds raised will help build fencing and provide wardens to help protect little terns from predators and disturbance.

Experiences on offer include: a night in the DWT villa on Brownsea Island; a sunset wildlife watching boat trip on the lagoon; a chance to discover dormice in West Dorset; a trip on the Fleet Observer to watch the sunset over Chesil; and an opportunity to see the little terns up close with a warden.

DWT’s Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre Manager, Emily Brown said: “The wildlife experiences auction is a great chance to get up close to Dorset’s wildlife with the experts – see wild birds, search for dormice or spend the night on Brownsea Island.

“You can bid online, or come along to the fundraising evening, where experts will be talking about these amazing little birds, and you can also bid in person.”

The breeding group of terns at Chesil are the smallest species of tern to breed in the UK. They come to the area from West Africa to breed in the excellent habitat which includes shallow and sheltered feeding areas.

The Little Tern Fundraising Evening is on Thursday, June 5 at 7pm at the Chesil Beach Centre off Portland Beach Road. It will include talks about the birds and a buffet.

Tickets costing £12 are available from the centre or on 01305 206191. To bid online, visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk

  •  More volunteers are needed to warden the colony. To help contact RSPB project officer Morgan Vaughan by email on morgan.vaughan@rspb.org.uk or call 07590 441414.

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