May 22, 2024

Can you help support Wales’ largest Little Terns colony?

A call has been made for wildlife supporters to step forward to make a difference at a famous Denbighshire bird colony.

Denbighshire Countryside Service is offering opportunities for bird enthusiasts to volunteer to support the Gronant Dunes Little Tern colony during the 2024 season.

The site is the largest breeding colony found in Wales and known internationally as it contributes to over 10 percent of the entire UK breeding population as well as supplementing other Little Tern colonies. Gronant and Point of Ayr are the only breeding colonies in Wales.

Denbighshire Countryside Service manages the colony (together with its satellite colony at Point of Ayr), with the help of North Wales Little Tern Group.

The Little terns spend the winter on the west coast of Africa, and arrive in May to breed on the shingle here at Gronant. They then make the long journey back to Africa in August with their newly fledged chicks.

Little terns are vulnerable to human disturbance – their eggs and chicks are very well camouflaged and difficult to spot. They are also at risk from predators both aerial and ground based.

A team of wardens work onsite to protect the birds, maintaining electric fencing which prevents disturbance from humans and predators, engaging with visitors and collecting valuable data.

North Denbighshire Coastal Ranger Claudia Smith explained: “Volunteers are a great help at Gronant. There is much to get involved with: during April, we have our colony set-up which involves constructing electric fencing, an outer rope fence and hides.

“Throughout the season, volunteers help to keep look-out for predators coming into the colony, encouraging visitors to view the birds without scaring them and carrying out maintenance tasks and record keeping. In August, many hands are needed to remove equipment from the beach, all of which is taken off site for the winter.”

Cllr Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport and Biodiversity Champion, said: “Volunteering is a great way to get outdoors, meet new people and learn new skills, as well as a unique opportunity to work on Wales’ only breeding little tern colony! We also have volunteering sessions on other Countryside Sites throughout Denbighshire, with opportunities to get involved in a large variety of tasks.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact [email protected] or 07785517398.


Photo by Michael Steciuk