New homes for terns at Frensham Little Pond

A lone Tern on a rock, the bird has long pointed wings and a forked tail
New homes for our terns National Trust/Joe Cornish

Thursday 25 April 2013 was a special day for the common and Arctic terns that visit the pond in the warmer months. It was when their old home, 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 and we’re hoping that this wonderful new residence will increase the population of our nesting terns.

The raft was bought from Filcris Ltd and together we designed a raft to blend in with the pond and protect the chicks from predators like mink.

Special features for our fluffy chicks

  • Four perching platforms for the chicks to enjoy our lovely views
  • Four tile shelters to protect the 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


  • 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.


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.


  • A pair of terns successfully nested on the 2014 raft and had two chicks. The chick’s first flight was in mid-July, and the family stayed at the Little Pond until later that month while the young birds improved their flying skills. They also practiced their diving whenever they dropped a fish an adult brought to them.
  • There was a single chick on the 2013 raft and it looked ready to fledge at the beginning of July but then we lost sight of it. The behaviour of the adults seemed to suggest that it may have perished. However, there’s a possibility that it did fledge and the family left soon after, we just missed them leave the Little Pond.

2015 was a successful year for our nesting terns and we’re very excited to see what happens next year...

Tim Mockridge, Area Ranger