Things are getting better for a colony of rare seabirds.

The colony of little terns at Chesil Beach has seen growing numbers recently.

After years of decline through the 1990s and 2000s - with no breeding pairs at all in 2009 - a recovery project has successfully helped the colony grow in size again.

Ben Harrington, Project Officer for the Little Tern colony, said: "The colony is doing great, the number of nests has been rising rapidly and is very likely to keep on going. We had our first two chicks hatch, with plenty more to hatch in the next few days.

"In recent years the population at the colony has been fairly steady, at about 38 pairs, but hopefully this year we will have even more.

"The colony has successfully fledged plenty of chicks over the last few seasons and they should hopefully be returning soon."

The little tern colony at Chesil Beach is the only one of its kind in the south west.

As a result of the efforts of the project, there are now 36 nests, 22 of which have 3 eggs.

Earlier this year, the RSPB put out a call for volunteers and funds to help the colony, which saw more than £10,000 raised for the cause.

Mr Harrington said: "Our volunteers are fantastic. We have a team of residential volunteers who cover the night shifts, and a team of 40 local volunteers who spend four hours at a time throughout the days to provide 24/7 cover at the colony.

"There are regularly crows, gulls and kestrels seen at the colony during the day and foxes at night, and the volunteers keep these away.

"Without volunteers, the colony would likely face heavy predation and very few chicks would fledge, if any.

"We also recently ran a number of little tern viewing trips in partnership with the Fleet Explorer to raise funds for the project."

Recently, the team has been working to provide an alternate food source for kestrels, so that they do not prey on the colony.

This involves locating kestrel nests and supplying food for them there, which allows the little tern colony to be protected without impacting the kestrels.