New raft

New raft

Working with Southern Water, we've been able to create new space for terns to nest in the Solent

Following a big joint push for developing tern sites this year, with organisations such as Natural England, The RSPB and Chichester Harbour Conservancy all in on the action, I was on the search for new sites to establish or improve the potential for breeding terns.

Late last year I cast my eye over a map of the area for suitable locations and the first to catch my eye was Budds Farm Sewage Works, directly next to Southmoor, one of our reserves. It had a large lake that was only a stones throw away from the sea and sandwiched in a very productive part of the harbour, with the Oyster Beds and Farlington on either sites and the islands in front. It would form a very nice part of the jigsaw. It also has the added bonus of being sheltered and completely independent of the tides, meaning no storm surges.

Budds Farm lake near Southmoor

© Chris Lycett

The pursuit of a raft began and Southern Water, who own the site, couldn’t have been more helpful. They even paid for the materials to build the raft!

It took a little while to get all the permissions in order but last Friday, we braved the inclement weather and transported all our kit over there. This was following a long day launching the RSPB raft over at the Oyster Beds, which is no small task! The volunteers handled it admirably.

Our raft was constructed by the volunteers and supported by eight big blue barrels. We, somewhat gingerly, rowed it out and anchored it to the bed of the lake with some rock filled cages. The lake itself is actually the old settling ponds and the silt would drift to the bottom.

It is no longer used in that way and is set aside for wildlife. It is usually covered with ducks and gulls but is also an important redshank roost. Fingers crossed over the coming years it will become an important tern breeding site too.