How you can help protect vulnerable Little Tern birds in Dorset

PEOPLE are being sought to give their time to help protect a vulnerable bird.

The Little Tern, one of the UK’s smallest and most vulnerable seabirds, weighs no more than a tennis ball.

In the UK, the Little Tern population has been declining since the 1980s, and their numbers have dropped by almost a fifth (18%) since the year 2000.

The birds face multiple pressures in the UK, including coastal flooding exacerbated by climate change, as well as rising sea levels, declining food availability, disturbance from people, dogs, and predators.

In Dorset, Chesil Beach is a vital stronghold for the last Little Tern colony in the south west.

Last year, the Chesil Little Tern Recovery Project celebrated more than 45 Little Tern chicks successfully fledging, whereas in 2021 only three surviving Little Tern fledglings were recorded.

However, the colony’s success depends on a team of dedicated volunteers who help protect each year’s chicks, as part of the Chesil Little Tern Recovery project.

This is led by the RSPB, in partnership with the Chesil & Fleet Nature Reserve, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Crown Estate, Portland Court Leet, Natural England and Dorset Council.

Tara Watson, RSPB Chesil Beach Little Tern project officer, said: “Our volunteer warden team are what makes the Chesil Little Tern Project flourish with their commitment to protecting the birds, their insightful ideas, their vast array of skills and their kindness.

“Everyone is passionate about learning and when I meet with volunteers, I always learn something from them.”

The project is now appealing for volunteers to monitor and protect the Chesil Little Tern colony throughout this year’s breeding season, from April to August.

A full training induction will be provided, no previous experience in conservation is needed, just bring your passion.

Tasks include:
• Protecting the birds from human disturbance by talking to visitors about the project and explaining what they can do to help
• Deploying predator deterrence and distraction techniques to prevent predators entering the breeding colony
• Carrying out surveys to record breeding activity and disturbance
• Supporting with practical tasks such as setting up seasonal fencing and bird hides

For more information on how to apply, visit, or email

Liam Putt Emery, a Chesil Beach Little Tern volunteer, said: “Volunteering with the project at Chesil has been exceptionally rewarding. I have gained a lot of knowledge from spending time watching and recording the Little Terns’ daily activities.

“Practical tasks including fence maintenance and reviewing nest trail camera footage has also been very enjoyable.

“I’m looking forward to seeing them return next year.”

One Comment

  1. Maria Alders Reply

    Good Morning.
    I will be pleased if you would consider me to assist in any capacity to help protect these little birds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *