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How to see common terns at Preston Docks

Posted on - 17th July, 2016 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Events, Kid's stuff, News, Riversway, Things To Do, Wildlife and Conservation
A common tern feeding a chick Pic: Billy Matthews

A common tern feeding a chick Pic: Billy Matthews

There’s a star turn at Preston Docks during the weeks ahead.

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Hundreds of common terns are nesting at the Marina with around 130 pairs spotted.

The RSPB is running a special tern-watching event later in the month for keen-eyed birdspotters.

Jon Carter from RSPB in the North West said: “Common terns are fascinating birds to see in action. Also known as sea swallows, they’re incredibly graceful, agile birds and an absolute joy to watch.

“Contrary to what their name might suggest, common terns have been in long-term decline and are classed as a species of conservation concern so to see so many in one place is a real treat.”

Related: Common terns return to Preston Docks

Common terns have been trying to nest at the Docks since 2009 but originally struggled before a joint effort between the Fylde Bird Club and Preston City Council to improve the artificial nests on the site.

Over the last three years, Fylde Bird Club has been working with pupils and staff at Saint Aidan’s Church of England Technology College, Preesall, to create purpose-built tern nest boxes. These provide tern eggs and chicks with shelter and protection from predators.

This year, Fylde Bird Club and St Aidan’s school, together with help from St George’s School in Marton, made an additional 205 nest trays. Club members then assisted Preston City Council staff in setting out the trays along with a tonne of gravel, which common terns use to nest.

Read more: How RSPB project is helping bring terns back to Preston

It’s clearly working as 50 chicks have been counted, with more on the way.

A common tern captured in flight Pic: Billy Matthews

A common tern captured in flight Pic: Billy Matthews

Paul Ellis of the Fylde Bird Club, said: “The views of the nesting birds at Preston Dock are exceptionally good and this has allowed club members to read the serial numbers of the British Trust for Ornithology rings carried by many of the birds.

“The results have shown the majority have come from Shotton on the River Dee but others have originated from further afield including Orkney, Rockabill in Ireland, Anglesey and County Durham. However, the star is a female which was ringed in Namibia in 2011 and has been recorded at Preston Dock for the past three summers.”

How can I watch the terns?

The RSPB and city council are running a tern-watching session throughout Thursday 21 July.

It runs on the south side of the Docks from 10am to 4pm and is free to attend.

The city council’s cabinet member for community and environment councillor Robert Boswell said: “This has and continues to be a great project, which the council are delighted to be part of.

“For the breeding pair numbers of common terns to have increased by so many is testament to the hard work of the RSPB, the Fylde Bird Club and the school children. Anyone interested in seeing these fascinating birds should visit Preston Marina on 21st July.”

Have you seen the terns? Let us know in the comments below

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