Kessingland Little Tern Colony News

July 2nd 2021

Report by Richard Chilvers

It’s tragic news from Kessingland Little tern colony.  Just after extending the enclosure on Wednesday due to  increasing nest area requirement (with well over 100 plus), unfortunately due to an outfall from Benacre, failure was brought about by the recent storms that washed away some of the colony.

On Friday we were met with an eerie silence and an abandoned site like the Marie Celeste with wardens clutching fist-fulls of nest flags.

All the 60 eggs were lost including Oystercatcher eggs and there were some dead newly hatched chicks.  The main culprit would seem to be a family group of crows...yes a murder in every sense of the term.

One bright ray though is the avocet family with 3 chicks who are still alive and growing well.  Reports are that one just chased off a heron while keeping an eye on watching crows around the site.  I did not realise how good avocet parents are as they see off any  gulls by dive bombing when getting too close to their chicks as they  chaperone them around the large lagoon.

The opinion is that the Terns will not  return as it's getting too late to start again. Their arrival had already been delayed due to the cold northerly winds prevailing in late April/May.

Also, there are reports of kestrel and hobby devastation at Eccles and a fox at Benacre with the only colony left being at Winterton with reports of many hundreds of little terns.

Everyone at the Kessingland site is devastated as there has been so much work and Anna Daniels such a good field worker.

The clear out is so complete that it looks like the work of a professional egg collector with a night view torch and collection before sunrise but I am reliably informed  that the probable scenario is a peregrine/great black/skua attack  followed by a family group of scavenging crows...well I did realise that crows were so clinical as not a shell left.

Richard Chilvers

Little Tern

Little Tern by Victor, CC-BY-NC-2