Anti-hedgehog fence helps tern colony thrive


An anti-hedgehog fence has helped a Dorset Little Tern colony thrive, after the mammals were found to be eating eggs.

The RSPB said at least 45 Little Terns successfully fledged at Chesil Beach in 2023, compared with only three surviving fledglings in 2021.

Little Tern has a successful 2023 breeding season at Chesil Beach (Mike Trew).

Charity Hedgehog Friendly Portland helped design the fence and trialled 'diversionary feeding' for the mammals, which had been found by trail cameras to be feasting on tern eggs.

The RSPB hopes to reverse the decline with its Chesil Little Tern Recovery Project, which is supported by the Crown Estate, Portland Court Leet, Chesil and Fleet Nature Reserve, Dorset Wildlife Trust and Natural England.

Project officer, Tara Watson, said: "It's important to remember that, while the impact of these predators on the tern colony at Chesil Beach is a risk, hedgehogs are also a protected species experiencing population declines, and we want to work to help protect them too."

Jo Morland, of Hedgehog Friendly Portland, said: "The Chesil Beach hedgehog population is particularly remarkable, surviving in this exposed and seemingly hostile location – so different from its usual habitat of woodland edges, hedges and gardens."