Save our Tern Island's on Brownsea Lagoon

by Dorset WildlifeTrust in Poole, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 12th November 2018 we successfully raised £1,816 with 39 supporters in 35 days

Brownsea Island’s Sandwich terns need your help to ensure that they have the habitat they need to nest and raise their young.

by Dorset WildlifeTrust in Poole, England, United Kingdom

Brownsea Island is one of only a few places sandwich terns live in Dorset. You can help tern things around!  Help us to ensure that Brownsea Island's sandwich tern population have the best opportunity for survival

Historically sandwich terns suffered and numbers were greatly affected by egg collection and the livery trade in the 19th century.  Their plumage and feathers were a favourite amongst milliners who used them in their creations.  Many of the important sandwich tern colonies in the UK survive because they are on nature reserves specifically looked after for their wildlife value.  The sandwich tern is currently classified in the UK as amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern particularly on the south coast.  Anything that we can do to encourage these birds to roost, in the lagoon at Brownsea Island, will greatly help increase their numbers and ensure the survival of the species.

Disappearing Habitat

If you visit Brownsea Island between May and September, you will be familiar with the loud cries of breeding sandwich terns that inhabit the small gravelly islands on the lagoon. Brownsea is well known for its beautiful bird population that congregates all around the lagoon on these little bits of land during nesting season. Sadly this important habitat is shrinking, and this is where we, and the terns, need your help.

The gravelly islands that the sandwich terns call home around the lagoon need regular ongoing maintenance. Every year we need to build up these gravelly islands to prevent erosion and to stop them disappearing into the lagoon. Shelves have been forming around the sides of the islands, where gravel has fallen away, and these present a danger to vulnerable young chicks that risk falling into the lagoon and being drowned.


Essential maintenance needed

Sandwich terns, unlike the common tern, are more particular about where they roost, preferring gravelly mounds in sight of the coast, close to their main food source of sand eels.  So, it is vital that this habitat is maintained.  In recent years we have found that numbers are declining, partly due to predation from neighbouring black gulls and sparrow hawks, but also as a result of the effects of shrinking habitat.


We need your help

To keep the gravel islands maintained, and to extend them so that more sandwich terns have habitat to nest, requires moving gravel from another area of the island to the lagoon and hire of an excavator.  Extending, repairing and making more islands will ensure that there is adequate habitat for sandwich terns and other lagoon birds to return to Brownsea Island to roost.

Water levels are rising around the lagoon – to ensure that the water level is kept at the correct level the lagoon pump needs regular maintenance, otherwise the lagoon and these vital habitats will disappear altogether.

Fences around the lagoon need to be replaced every year to stop the deer on the island from wandering into this habitat.

Our three hides around the lagoon need regular maintenance from weather conditions and general wear. With this improved infrastructure and resources the nature reserve will be set up to better educate children and visiting school groups in a safe environment. It will enable the team on Brownsea to inspire the next generation to care about this unique environment.

Please pledge today to help us reach our target, so we can carry out the important work needed to manage and improve these shrinking habitats.

Your donation will enable us to carry out vital repairs and maintenance:

£10 will cover the cost of 3 new buckets to transport gravel onto the tern islands

£30 will pay for 5 metres of deer fencing to stop deer trampling eggs

£50 go towards 1 tonne of gravel to help with re-gravelling the tern islands

£100 will pay for a new pair of chest waders to get across to the islands

£250 will go towards the annual service of the lagoon pump


Thank you for helping us restore these vital habitats

We'd like to thank Nathan Bolger and Tony Bates for use of their photographs.

If you would like to know more about the work of Dorset Wildlife Trust please visit our web page:

If you have any questions about the project contact:


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£5 or more


Thank you from the birds at Brownsea Island Lagoon!

£10 or more


One good tern deserves another. Your certificate is winging its way to you.

£25 or more

1 of 20 claimed


Guide to Summer Coastal Birds

£50 or more

3 of 15 claimed


Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Wild Birds of Dorset 2019 Calendar by Paul Williams

£75 or more

0 of 25 claimed


Guided Brownsea Island walk with a warden for one person.

£100 or more

0 of 25 claimed


Guided Brownsea Island walk with a warden for two people.

£250 or more

0 of 25 claimed


Guided Brownsea Island walk with a warden for two people, a DWT’s Wild Birds of Dorset 2019 Calendar and a year’s free Dorset Wildlife Trust membership.

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