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One good turn for terns

PUBLISHED: 17:25 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:09 20 February 2013

Tern raft launching

Tern raft launching

IN April common terns started to arrive back from their wintering grounds in west Africa and this spring, many will be settling to breed on artificial nesting habitat provided by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.

IN April common terns started to arrive back from their wintering grounds in west Africa and this spring, many will be settling to breed on artificial nesting habitat provided by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
Terns usually like to nest on open gravel shorelines of islands and banks of gravel pits, but where these are overgrown or there are no shorelines at all, we can help them out. Special rafts covered in a thick layer of gravel which mimics their natural nesting habitat have been proving to be a hit with terns in recent years.
In 2007, thanks to funding from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, we installed rafts at Broadwater Lake Nature Reserve near Harefield , Hilfield Park Reservoir NR near Watford, Wilstone Reservoir NR near Tring and Amwell Nature Reserve near Stanstead Abbotts. Working with a local conservation contractor, we designed a new type of tern nesting raft. A wide shelf attached to the rafts prevents attacks by mink and fences stop the rafts being used by geese and the tern chicks from falling off.
More than 40 chicks fledged successfully from the rafts and this year we hope some will return and in due course breed on those same rafts. Common terns generally only breed from the age of two to four years so we will have to wait some time to find out if any of our 2007 chicks return to breed, but once they pick a breeding site, they are very loyal to it. One pair was known to have bred at the same place for 17 years.

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