DEFIANT seabirds have bounced back from a tough year to produce a record number of young.
The hard hit colony of little terns on Crimdon Denemouth beach, just north of Hartlepool, had lost almost all of their chicks in a disastrous nesting season last year.
Despite a campaign by a partnership of organisations to help them breed, the rare seabirds were expected to struggle this year.
However, a record number of young have been raised on the beach after volunteers put up a fence to protect the nesting terns from walkers and dogs.
Rocks and debris have also been put on the beach to help the birds hide from kestrels after the predatory birds wiped out the majority of last year’s fledglings.
The Industry Nature Conservation Association (INCA), who led the campaign, said a record 147 young had been raised by 84 birds this year.
Geoff Barber, from INCA, called it “a very successful year” for the little terns.
He paid tribute to the Hartlepool Rangers and other groups involved, along with volunteers Trevor Stephenson, Derek Brown and Bill Sutherland.
Mr Barber said: “We are grateful to all the volunteers who turn up each year to help us to put up the fence.
“Credit must also go to Trevor, along with Derek and Bill, who spend endless hours down here looking over the site.”
Trevor, a little tern voluntary warden for INCA, said: “I was not really looking forward to the 2011 nesting season.
“Last year, we had a record number of little terns nest on the site but nearly all their chicks were eaten by a pair of kestrels.
“I could not have faced that again. Seeing all those little birds, having flown all the way from Africa, only to have all their chicks predated, was enough to make a man weep.”