OVER the next few weeks the RSPB is starting an exciting piece of work here in Langstone Harbour.
Langstone Harbour is the most important place on the south coast for a rare species of seabird – the little tern.
Little terns are not much larger than swallows.
They fly thousands of miles from Africa to reach our shores each summer to breed.
About half of the breeding population of little terns on the south coast choose Langstone Harbour as the place to build their nests.
But unfortunately their breeding success rate has been very low over the last few years.
Little terns nest close to the strandline on the shore.
The nest itself is actually just a hollow scraped out in the gravel.
This means that over high tides or during storms the eggs or chicks are at great risk of drowning or being washed away.
To improve their chances of success, the RSPB plans to add hundreds of tonnes of shingle to the little tern’s favourite nesting spots over the next few weeks.
This will raise the overall level of the shingle and so making the nests less vulnerable to flooding.
The work in Langstone Harbour is part of a wider initiative by the RSPB to increase the number of pairs of breeding little terns on the south coast from 100 pairs to 350 pairs by 2020.
The RSPB has its work cut out to get the job finished on time.
The little terns will be arriving in Hampshire from Africa at the beginning of April to start courtship and nesting.
Let’s hope 2013 marks the beginning of a population upturn for these charming little seabirds.