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Record-breaking bird settles into new home at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh

Last modified: 07 July 2015

Arctic tern flying against bright blue sky

Arctic tern

Image: Graham Catley

It’s smiles all round for staff and volunteers at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh after efforts to create a safe home for a record-breaking bird have proven to be successful.

Both Arctic and common terns are now nesting safely at the reserve after the team placed two brand new purpose-built rafts out on site, thanks to funding of £43,026 from The Veolia Environmental Trust, which was awarded through the Landfill Communities Fund. Covered in cockle shells to replicate the shingle beaches where they would normally nest, the tern rafts help to protect the eggs and chicks of these delightful birds from predators.

The Arctic tern is famous for holding the record for the longest migration of any bird – over 25,000 miles every year all the way from Antarctica. It is an uncommon bird in North West England, with the Ribble Estuary at the southern limit of its breeding range. These incredible creatures can now be seen gracefully patrolling over the reserve’s newly-created lagoons, before stooping to catch a fish from the surface.

Nick Godden, RSPB Ribble Reserves Warden, said:“The day after we put the two tern rafts out, there were birds already investigating them. It is so exciting to see these birds nesting on the purpose built rafts so soon and we are really hoping they will be successfully raising chicks in a few weeks’ time.

“Of course, it’s not just terns that are making themselves at home at Hesketh Out Marsh. Visitors can expect to see other fantastic wildlife such as redshanks, brown hares and nesting avocets, all set against the atmospheric backdrop of the stunning song of the skylark. With summer in the air, it’s the perfect time to come and visit and get closer to nature.”

The terns are the latest creatures to make a home at the site since the RSPB transformed wheat fields back into a thriving home for nature eight years ago. The new pools and nesting sites – created thanks to the £43,026 grant from The Veolia Environmental Trust - are giving visitors a chance to get better views of wildlife at the reserve than ever before.

The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Paul Taylor, added: “It is great to hear that this important project is achieving what it set out to do. The results show that the Landfill Communities Fund makes a real difference to England and Wales’ biodiversity. I look forward to hearing about the continued growth of the tern population in the future.” 

For more information about Hesketh Out Marsh, please visit

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