What we're looking for
As part of the RSPB's Saving Nature Scheme, we are looking for volunteers to help monitor and protect little terns and other beach-nesting birds around the Essex coast (specifically Hamford water and the Blackwater, and Colne Estuaries) during the breeding season (April to August). Unfortunately, Little Terns are restricted to remote and difficult to access places in Essex. This prevents a big challenge to their ongoing monitoring. We are particularly interested in hearing from people who have 4 x 4's or can commit to walking to remote places to monitor these birds. The role would involve identifying those beaches where little terns are gathering, monitoring nesting activity and chicks, and keeping records of predators and human disturbance until chicks are fledged. We are also keen to continue to undertake co-ordinated counts on the Essex Coast and collect anecdotal reports and you would be key part of this, even if returning zero counts. This is an fantastic opportunity to really make a difference to Little terns in Essex and join this exciting initiative at the beginning. The little tern is one of Britain's rarest breeding seabirds and has suffered chronic decline over the past 25 years. They nest on sand or shingle coastal beaches near shallow, sheltered feeding areas where they catch small fish, invertebrates and surface insects. Little terns are struggling to find a safe place to nest on our beaches due to increasing recreational activities, climate change, habitat loss and predation, and their numbers are declining along with suitable breeding sites. As a partner in the national EU-LIFE little tern project, the RSPB has worked to increase the population of little terns through restoration, creation and management of breeding sites; monitoring and protecting nesting terns and their young during the breeding season; and increasing public awareness to ensure support for the long term protection of little terns.