The little tern (Sterna albifrons) is one of Britain's rarest species of breeding sea bird. It nests in colonies on shingle beaches and there are few such colonies here. I am delighted to say, however, that Dorset has such a breeding colony on the Chesil Beach; the only colony in south west England. Recently the number of nesting pairs became dangerously low due to human interference and natural predation by other species but stringent controls and monitoring, mainly by enthusiastic volunteers, means that the numbers have risen and it is, once again a thriving community raising about sixty fledgeling in 2014. A real success story for conservation in general and the RSPB in particular who oversee the project.
The little tern is, like other tern species, a migrant visiting our shores to breed during our summer from May until August; they over winter off the coasts of east and west Africa. They are the smallest of the tern species in this country and have a distinctive white flash on their forehead(albi = white; frons = front) contrasting with the surrounding black cap. They are very active birds as well as noisy, constantly chattering to their neighbours!