New homes for terns at Frensham Little Pond
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Thursday 25 April 2013 was a significant day for the common and Arctic terns at the pond. It was the day on which their old residence, or rather raft, was replaced by a brand-new one.
The new raft
The new raft was kindly funded by the Haslemere Natural History Society. We’re hoping that this wonderful new residence will increase the population of our nesting terns.
The raft was bought from Filcris Ltd. Together we’ve designed the raft to blend in with the pond and to protect the chicks from being taken by mink. Four perching platforms have also been fitted for the chicks to enjoy the lovely views of the pond.
Once the raft was assembled, on one of the pond’s beaches, 20 bags of gravel were emptied and spread over the raft bed. Four tile shelters were also placed in the gravel against the Perspex sides to protect any tern chicks from the heat of the sun.
For most of us, moving house can be a very stressful event, but not for our terns. They had it all done for them by our trusted band of volunteers, two of our rangers, and a Waverley Borough Council ranger with a boat.
Monitoring our terns
Our terns were monitored for two weeks to make sure they weren't preparing to nest. Once we were sure that the birds would not be disturbed, the installation date was set.
The day went smoothly with a group of about 20 of us watching and helping. As the raft was pulled from the beach and out into the pond a pair of terns looped overhead. Hopefully, they’ll be nesting on their new home soon.
2013 tern update
A pair of terns eventually bred and produced two chicks. Unfortunately one of them died within three weeks and the second survived for about two months. We’re not sure why they died but it may have been heat exhaustion, neighbouring birds of prey or heron, or aggressive competition from other terns.
Although the chicks did not survive to breed themselves we’re pleased that the eggs hatched and feel that the new raft is a success. Sadly, by comparison, the tern eggs on the Great Pond’s raft did not hatch.
There were also two other pairs of terns keen to nest on the raft but first breeding pair would not allow them to.
2014 tern update
Following the success of last year’s new tern nesting raft, we installed a second raft (also funded by the Haslemere Natural History Society) on the pond.
Two nesting pairs made their home on each raft and both had chicks. Unfortunately, all of the chicks disappeared quite quickly and we presume they were predated, maybe by a heron. This was not surprising for the three youngsters on the old raft because they spent a lot of their time in the middle of the raft, which was where their nest was. But we thought that the three on the new raft would survive as their nest was tucked away and protected by the ramp.
We’re meeting a local bird expert to try to find ways of protecting the young chicks next year and we’ll keep you posted...
Tim Mockridge, Ranger