Rare seabird makes a return to Chichester Harbour

Chichester Harbour is celebrating wildlife success as Little Terns, one of Britain's rarest breeding seabirds, make a comeback. Seventeen Little Terns fledged from the Harbour this summer, the most successful year since the mid 1970's. PICTURE BY PAUL ADAMS
Chichester Harbour is celebrating wildlife success as Little Terns, one of Britain's rarest breeding seabirds, make a comeback. Seventeen Little Terns fledged from the Harbour this summer, the most successful year since the mid 1970's. PICTURE BY PAUL ADAMS

ONE of the rarest seabirds in the country has made a remarkable comeback.

Seventeen little terns fledged from Chichester Harbour this year – the most successful year since the mid-1970s.

Records show the chattering seabird, which migrates to the south coast from West Africa to breed, has attempted to rear young in Chichester Harbour most summers.

But summer storms and rising sea levels have wiped out nests.

In recent years, the RSPB has been trying to get the birds to nest in Langstone Harbour, with 500 tonnes of aggregate piled on one of the harbour’s islands two years ago to help create a good habitat.

This year the terns built their nests in the harbour, only for a summer storm to wash the nests away.

But, in an amazing turnaround, scientists believe the determined creatures flew a few miles away to Chichester Harbour to lay their eggs.

James Parkin, Chichester Harbour Conservancy’s farming and wildlife officer, said: “We are extremely pleased with the breeding success of little terns this year, but luck has been on their side with a period of calm weather immediately after they decided to nest.”

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