One of the UK’s rarest seabirds could become a victim of climate change as rising sea levels squeeze the coastline.
Traditional colonies such as Donna Nook in Lincolnshire have already been lost due to changes in the UK coastline, and now there are fewer than 60 breeding sites left.
Further predictions of increased coastal flooding and the rise in sea levels could spell disaster for the species.
Susan Rendell-Read, little tern project manager for the RSPB, said: “Little terns are quite vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They need undisturbed sand and shingle beaches to nest with a plentiful supply of small fish just offshore.
“In the past, areas lost to flooding or storms would be offset by new areas of sand or shingle thrown up by the sea. This is now being prevented by hard sea defences and other manmade developments.”
To combat the climate crisis, the RSPB has established a five-year partnership with Natural England and National Trust to help little terns adapt to the changing climate. The programme will lay the foundations for the long-term recovery of the birds by creating nesting areas and increasing public awareness.
Ms Rendell-Read added: “These dainty little seabirds, no heavier than a tennis ball, have just started returning to our shores after travelling thousands of miles from their wintering sites off the south and west coasts of Africa.
“We need to make sure they have the best chance of finding a suitable home when they arrive.”