May 27, 2024

Little Tern colony breaks seasonal records

A Denbighshire bird coastal colony has broken records this season.

The group of Little Terns found at Gronant beach near Prestatyn is the largest breeding colony found in Wales.

This site is internationally known as it contributes to over 10 per of the entire UK breeding population as well as supplementing other colonies.

The 2022 season marks the 18th year Denbighshire Countryside Services has dedicated to protecting the colony. A return to full engagement activities on the site following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions saw 1,138 visitors visit the beach to support and view the colony.

This year saw 211 breeding pairs recorded, the highest count seen at Gronant, marking an increase of 23.4 percent from the previous count in 2018.

In addition, a total of 209 fledglings were confirmed, the second highest recorded at Gronant.

The baseline for sus sustaining a Little Tern colony is widely accepted to be 0.74 fledgelings per pair (FPP), and this season’s colony saw a figure of 0.99 FPP, providing an encouraging sign about the future of these endangered birds.

This season saw also the most successful year for colour ringing chicks. With support form Nigel Wilde from Merseyside Ringing Group, 93 chicks were colour ringed, and a total of 236 chicks ringed with British Trust for Ornithology rings (only one chick less than the previous highest year, 2021).

Nearly 300 children also visited the site this season thanks to the work of the project’s engagement officer and wardens. Over 200 children were additionally involved in the project through visits to schools.

This season saw individuals from the North Wales Little Tern Group, Denbighshire Countryside Services, Merseyside Ringing Group, Bangor University, Prestatyn High and the RSPB contributing time to volunteer on the project.

This support totalled well over 600 hours of volunteering; the volunteers helped to chase away kestrels trying to predate the ground dwelling chicks, as well as helping with other tasks ranging from post knocking to photo identification.

Cllr Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport, said: “All the time and effort, generously donated, was instrumental to the resulting collaborative, inclusive, and successful season. We are proud to have waved the terns off, wishing them luck on their journey back to their wintering grounds in West Africa and we look forward to their return next year.”

“The success the team attained this year was only achievable through the determination, enthusiasm, and support of all those involved in the project.

This project is funded by the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme.

If you are interested in getting involved or would like to find out more about volunteering at the Little Tern Colony, please get in touch with Denbighshire Countryside Services, at 01745 356197.