STAFF at a nature reserve are looking forward to hearing the flap of tiny wings .

One of the Titchfield Haven's most sensitive areas for ground-nesting birds has had a mile of fox-proof fencing installed around it in order to protect eggs and young birds from predators. The Fareham nature reserve was able to pay for the fence thanks to a £3,930 grant from the Department of Food and Rural Affairs.

In the past foxes have severely limited the rearing of young wildfowl and wading birds.

But following the installation of the protective fence, signs that this is set to change are already showing and staff are expecting a bumper year for the reserve's breeding birds.

Nesting black-headed gulls have moved into the areas, the population rising from a mere half a dozen pairs to almost 400 pairs this season.

The presence of the gulls is benefiting some of the reserve's less common, more vulnerable species such as lapwings and redshanks.

Hampshire County Council's executive member for recreation and heritage, Margaret Snaith, said: "It's wonderful."