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Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Thursday, 24 June 2010 12:38 UK
Electric fences protect little tern eggs at Kessingland
By Andrew Woodger
BBC Suffolk

Little tern
Little terns lay their eggs directly onto the ground

An electric fence has been put up on a Suffolk shingle beach to protect nesting seabirds.

One hundred pairs of little terns have established a colony at Kessingland.

The birds lay their camouflaged eggs straight on to the pebbled beaches which are popular with dog walkers and also foxes.

"Visitors will be able to watch from a safe distance, leaving the birds to hopefully rear plenty of chicks," said Robin Harvey, RSPB warden.

The shingle beach at Kessingland is a part of the Suffolk coast that is actually expanding rather than eroding.

"It's not as busy as Lowestoft or Southwold, but it's certainly a busy beach," said Ian Barthorpe, RSPB officer at Minsmere.

"Dogs are a far bigger issue than people because dogs will wander at will through the colony."

Electric fence at Kessingland beach
The electric fence aims to keep dogs and foxes away from the eggs

Other birds who use the shingle are ringed plovers and oystercatchers, but those species nest as individuals rather than in a colony and they're not as rare.

The RSPB estimates that there are only 1500 pairs of little terns in the UK, which means conservation groups need to respond quickly when they start nesting.

"There are very few colonies of these tiny seabirds nesting in the UK, so we are keen to help them nest more securely," said Robin.

"Watching the birds coming and going from their fishing grounds offshore is a superb spectacle."

The RSPB is working in partnership with the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the National Trust to fund a little tern protection team.

"As these birds favour shingle beaches, many colonies fail due to accidental disturbance from visitors who are understandably keen to share these special places," said David Wood, chairman of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Partnership.

"Sadly, the large colony in Great Yarmouth has moved this year, and several colonies in Suffolk have failed in recent years, so we're pleased to be able to keep the Kessingland birds, and encourage visitors to admire these stunning birds from a safe distance."

Kessingland beach
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