A pair of common terns have built a nest on the roof of a bird hide at the WWT Arundel Wetland Centre reserve. The Sand Martin hide was designed look like a large sand bank and attract sand martins. Instead the plants sprouting on the shingle-covered roof have attracted a pair of common terns who seem to think it will be a perfect place to raise their youngsters. The common tern has amber conservation status in the UK due to constant threats to its habitat.
Last year this pair of common terns nested on a special shingle covered raft built to attract them to Arundel Wetland Centre and hatched two chicks. When the terns returned from winter migration in this May to nest they were too late – two black-headed gulls had laid claim to their special nesting raft.
WWT grounds warden Paul Stevens spotted the nest on the roof last week “I am happy the terns found their nesting spot on the roof. The black-headed gull colony near the raft has hatched many chicks this spring and they are amber listed species, too. With the terns on the roof and the gulls on the raft and island there is room for everyone.”
When they pair of common terns first arrived in May they glared at the black-headed gulls from nearby perching posts in the waters near the raft. The terns scouted for nesting spots all over the reserve. Last Wednesday their rooftop nest was spotted by WWT Grounds warden Paul Stevens.
Breeding adult common terns are light grey and white with a black-cap, orange-red legs, and a long-pointed red-black bill. Common terns like to nest on shingle coastal beaches or on inland shingle banks and bars. They also breed close to freshwater lakes, reservoirs and flooded gravel pits. The birds create a shallow ‘scrape’ on sand, shingle or within low vegetation and lay 2-3. The eggs take roughly 26 days to hatch.
Published 24th June 2014
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