Little Terns East Anglia - post by 'Touching the Tide Little Tern Warden'

Little Terns are charismatic birds, that once formed part of the character of the Suffolk coast in the summer months. Sadly in just 19 years the population saw a dramatic drop of 88% and last summer only four chicks successfully fledged along the whole of the Suffolk coast.


So if you kitesurf in East Anglia, specifically Suffolk please take some time to read this Blog post to see how you can help reduce the disturbance to the Little Tern nesting sites specifically in the months of May to August.

Little Terns are migratory and return to the UK during the summer months when our beaches are at their busiest. Unfortunately little terns are highly susceptible to disturbance from walkers, dogs, powercraft as well as kites; both toy kites and those used for kite surfing. Little Terns see kites as large birds of prey and this startles them and can cause them to abandon suitable nesting habitats and abandon nests of eggs or chicks.


Three sites which have seen disturbance to the Little Terns over the years are Shingle Street, Kessingland beach and the mouth of the river Deben normally referred to as Felixstowe Ferry.  A combination of recreational use has led to abandonment of these suitable nesting sites at Shingle Street and Kessingland but on the knoll in the mouth of the river Deben at Felixstowe Ferry notably kite surfing has been deemed the greatest cause of disturbance alongside Jetski's and Powerboats.


Kite surfing away from these areas would greatly benefit the breeding success of the Little Terns especially those birds on the knoll at Felixstowe Ferry. These birds were the only ones to produce fledglings last year (the only four in Suffolk), showing the importance of this site for Little Terns.


Keeping at least a 200 metre radius around the highlighted areas below from the start of May until mid-August, would help to greatly reduce the disturbance to the Little Terns. This could make a great difference to their chances of breeding success and hopefully see more chicks being hatched and fledging.


We aim to work together with people who use the beaches of Suffolk as we understand everyone's right to recreation. We realise that the areas where the Little Terns have shown interest over the years are prime kite surfing areas (especially the mouth of the river Deben at Felixstowe Ferry) and we still wish for kite surfers to enjoy the coast but if the areas mentioned above could be given some distance between the months of May and August it would be greatly appreciated.

kitesurfing east angliakitesurfing east angliakitesurfing east angliakitesurfing east anglia


Support from kitesurfers and the community alike is vital in giving Little Terns a chance in Suffolk. Thank you.


Olivia Duff

Touching the Tide Little Tern Warden