An appeal for volunteers to help a group of birds that have found respite on Chesil beach has been made by the RSPB.

For six years, a partnership of organisations has worked together to help the little tern colony that migrate to the UK from Africa to breed in the summer.

For a number of years the breed has seen a decrease in its size across the UK.

Only 1,900 pairs of the sea bird were recorded in the country last year however, the dent in their breeding numbers has shown signs of slowly recovering at Chesil beach.

Current threats to the birds include foxes, crows and kestrels as well as accidental disturbance from beach users.

To give the birds the best chance, the Chesil beach site between Weymouth and Portland is fenced annually and closely protected by a team of conservationists, many of whom are volunteers.

A spokesperson for the RSPB said: “The Chesil colony however all but collapsed over the past decade, but is now starting to recover thanks to our efforts.

“Hours of hard work, wardening and protecting the colony, has really started to pay off with little tern breeding numbers increasing year on year. “

Philip George, Bailiff to the Portland Court Leet, said: “As Stewards of the common land on which the terns nest we feel this project is well worth supporting. We are aware this is the only colony in the whole of the south-west and we want to help preserve these rare birds for ecological reasons and for the enjoyment of the beach users.”

Thalassa McMurdo Hamilton, little tern project officer said: "Last year was incredibly successful as 33 pairs nested and the site recorded the best known breeding success in the country, and the highest ever recorded at this site. We hope that breeding pairs will increase again this year.

“The project's success relies on volunteers to help warden the colony, and so we are looking for anyone who can spare some time to make a real difference for these wonderful birds. Most of our volunteers spend one or two four hour shifts on the beach per week from late May to the end of July. Come along and be a part of this inspiring species recovery project.”

The bird welfare group is hosting a pre-season meeting at the Chesil Beach Centre on May 13 at 7pm. Those who are interested in helping restore the colony sizes and protecting the bird from further decline, should contact Thalassa at or on 07590 441414.


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