EU Life+ little tern project

Little tern coming in to land on a shingle beach

The National Trust are a partner in a new 5 year RSPB led EU Life+ project that aims to provide an intensive pulse of activity over the next five years to bring about a ‘step change’ in little tern conservation in the UK.

“Improving the conservation status of the Little tern in the UK through targeted action at the most important colonies.” EU LIFE Little tern Recovery Project statement.

The National Trust are a partner in a new 5 year RSPB led EU Life+ project that aims to provide an intensive pulse of activity over the next five years to bring about a ‘step change’ in little tern conservation in the UK.

Little terns which are summer visitors to the UK are threatened mainly by human disturbance, predation, habitat change and high tides. The main focus of the project will be the implementation of intensive, targeted management actions to tackle these threats at 20 of the most important sites in the UK, two of which are managed by National Trust (Blakeney Point on the Norfolk Coast and Long Nanny in Northumberland). This is expected not only to improve the species’ status at the targeted sites but also to increase the population at the national level. The project also aims to raise awareness of little terns to visitors and work with statutory agencies and local authorities to support little tern conservation beyond the life of the project.

Whilst the UK population is in decline with a total breeding population of 1,241 pairs, the little tern population across the 20 project sites has remained more or less stable over the last decade despite these national declines. These project sites present the best opportunities for population recovery and to influence the wider UK population.

Working in partnership across Europe...

The National Trust will benefit from €66,000 of EU Life+ funding over 5 years to be matched by 50% by National Trust funds to cover ranger time for protection, predator control, cameras, fencing, ranger hut refurbishment, signage, leaflets and visitor engagement. See here for more information about the EU Life+ Programme

Another element of the project is fitting a number of Little terns with coded colour rings that can be spotted and read through a telescope or a camera with a large zoom. This is to help us monitor individual birds so we can build a better understanding of these birds and their movements, enabling us to protect them better in the long term. Members of public can also help by reporting any colour rings and codes they might spot on little terns they see or photograph.

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“Of all breeding terns we know least about the migrations of the Little tern . . .”

Cabot and Nisbet 2013

For more information on this project please visit the EU LIFE Little tern Recovery Project web page