Chesil Beach is used by a number of species of terns. Those regularly seen include the following:

Little tern Sterna albifrons Migrant, nests on Chesil Beach
Common tern Sterna hirundo Migrant, nests on island at Abbotsbury
Sandwich tern Sterna sandvicensis Common passage migrant
Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea Passage migrant
Black tern Chlidonias niger passage migrant

Other tern species that have been seen in the area are:

Caspian tern Sterna caspia Two records
Roseate tern Sterna dougallii Scarce passage migrant
Sooty tern Sterna fuscata One record
White-winged black tern Chlidonias leucopterus One record

The little terns are often to be seen in the Ferrybridge area from May to July. They nest in an area of Chesil Beach which is usually fenced off during this period to prevent unintentional intrusion into the nesting area. We ask all visitors to respect the notices and leave the birds undisturbed. We endeavour to remove the fences as soon as the birds have finished nesting so that the beach is available to visitors during the main holiday period. As the name suggests little terns are the smallest of the terns seen in the area. You often hear the distinctive call before you see them. They can often be seen fishing very close to Ferrybridge where they hover above the water before dropping quickly into the water to catch small fish.

The common terns nest on an island near the Abbotsbury Swannery in the upper Fleet and are frequently seen in the mid and upper Fleet from May to July. They also nest at Lodmoor and birds from both colonies can regularly be seen hunting for small fish in Weymouth Harbour.

Sandwich terns do not regularly nest on Chesil Beach. The nearest nesting area is Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. However, as they return north in the spring they are often seen in the Fleet, particularly on and around the sandbanks at Ferrybridge.

Tern sign

Little tern hovering
Little tern hovering

  Little terns
Little terns ©2010 Angela Thomas


Last updated17/05/2010

Copyright © 2010 Chickerell BioAcoustics