All the focus over the last few weeks has been on Tern Island with the number of birds now breeding on the island reaching around 1000. Predominantly these are Black Headed Gulls with many nests now hatching and numerous young running around the island. Over the last week Sandwich (67prs), Common (28 prs) and Little Tern (21prs) have all been increasing their number of fishing trips and good numbers of fish are being returned to the colony. This increased activity is indicating that many of the Terns have now hatched.

Sandwich Tern (above) and Common Tern (below) Chicks

But things go even better, after all the hard work by volunteers and staff, on the lunchtime of Saturday 10th and after being brief observed the previous week in Hampshire an ELEGANT TERN, a species of California and Mexico was located in the harbour near Tern Island. Soon after and over the following days over 2500 people visited the site to observe this exceptionally rare species.

The start of the twitch

Elegant Tern

The amount of activity on Tern Island is testimony of the hard work of volunteers who braved the cold winter wind, snow and rain to prepare the habitat. This work is continued through the breeding season monitoring the colony, and looking after the electric fence to ensure that predators are kept away from the young. So do not be surprised to see staff and volunteers carrying out this essential work under a special licence to ensure the success of the colony. Much of this work is under the EU Life + little tern recovery project. As part of this project you may see our “Tern Warden”, Jan down on the beach if you have any questions she will be able to tell you everything about the terns at Pagham Harbour.

Little Terns at Pagham

Also the other exciting news is a pair of Peregrines have bred on the reserve for the first time. This very unusual that peregrines nest on the ground and clearly the habitat has met with their agreement. Also reported during the Tern twitch was a beautiful summer plumage Black Tern, a Roseate Tern and a Little Stint.