A new floating breeding platform for common terns was secured on Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden’s broad today (March 27th 2017) at South Walsham. It was attached to posts that survive from an old 1960s installation, designed to deter waterskiing.
The platform comprises a 3m x 2m pallet and six large fruit juice barrels (for buoyancy) donated by Britvic, Norwich, along with two ‘air raid’ shelters, so that chicks can hide from aerial predators and a hinged ramp into the water. The ramp will take the weight of a chick, but not otters, to deter them from attacking.
Trevor ‘Tabs’ Taberham, volunteer wildlife warden at Fairhaven Garden explained: “Two years ago, just after I started working her, five pairs of common terns tried to breed on the island in Fairhaven broad, but greylag geese wrecked the nests. So last year, we experimented with a single standard size pallet, attached to the waterskiing posts. It attracted two pairs of common terns; one pair stayed to nest, three chicks fledged, but unfortunately one was taken by a Herring gull.”
“The new platform, which has been built by John Debbage, one of the gardening team at Fairhaven, is much larger. We hope that John’s air raid shelters and chick ramp will keep the birds safe, should they decide to breed this year. We can expect the common terns to start arriving in mid April and will be keeping a close eye on activity out on the water.”
John Debbage, Fairhaven gardener added: “We have developed a much more substantial and stable platform this year. I would like to thank Phil Denman and Luke Davey from Britivic for their support and have my fingers firmly crossed for a more successful breeding season than last year.”
Fairhaven Garden’s daily boat trips, which started for the season on Mothering Sunday, will take visitors past the common tern platform, so they can keep an eye on progress.
The garden is open daily all year 10am to 5pm (closed Christmas Day and closes 4pm during the winter), also open Wednesdays until 9pm from May to the end of August. Garden entry is adult £6.75, concessions £6.15, child £3.85 (under 5 free). Free entry to tearoom, gift shop and plant sales.
There is wheelchair access throughout the garden, including a Sensory Garden and accessible boat trips (April to October, additional charge). Visitors requiring special facilities are advised to telephone in advance, mobility scooters available.
Dogs are welcome on leads; small charge to cover poop scoop.