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Tern flying


Spring heralds the arrival of terns in the Solent from their over-wintering grounds in West Africa.

They’re here to breed, and within a colony, each pair will select an area of loose sand or shingle in which to make a ‘scrape’ with their feet.  This small shallow dip in the ground, into which the female lays her eggs, is extremely vulnerable as it’s virtually invisible to the naked eye.

Terns are elegant birds, distinguishable from gulls by their slim, streamlined appearance and can be seen hovering above the water before plunge-diving for fish.

Bird Aware aren’t currently funded to focus on terns as other projects exist to safeguard them, however the message of avoiding disturbance remains the same for all our coastal birds.

Common tern resting on a wooden post

Common tern

Experts at catching fish, common terns can often be seen hovering above the sea, head down, intently searching for prey on or just below the surface of the water.

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Little tern on the beach

Little tern

The little tern is the smallest tern to breed in the UK and has a bright yellow bill with a black tip.

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Sandwich tern on the beach

Sandwich tern

Named after Sandwich Bay in Kent, these terns are regularly seen around the Solent where breeding numbers have remained steady over the last few years thanks to habitat management and community engagement. 

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