We are pleased to announce that since launching the programme in September we have had a total of 10 trackers sponsored which will go a long way to getting the project off the ground. Along with grant funding from The Seabird Group and the Merseyside Ringing Group we are hopeful of getting plenty more birds tracked next year!
In a flurry of other news, we received some information back on a Gronant colour-ringed bird - a 2-year-old, XLB, was seen at Hayling Island on 30/07. A rare case of one of our birds being spotted elsewhere. Interestingly it wasn't seen at Gronant this summer so may have bred on the south coast...
Tony Waller, the group's meetings secretary, gave a talk to the Colwyn Bay rotary club on 19/11 about the Little Terns at Gronant and the efforts to support them. It was good to tell a new audience about the work done to protect the terns.
A talk on the evening of 22/11 at Prestatyn Cricket Club resulted in £100 of donations to the group which we are very grateful for. It was a well-attended talk given by a Professor at Bangor University called Tom Rippeth and was on the topic of climate change which is of particular interest to us at the Little Tern Group as rises in sea level and more frequent storms threaten the safety of the nesting birds.
Finally, there was a national conference held in Norwich a few weeks back to mark the end of the EU LIFE+ project which has given so much assistance to colonies around the UK, including the Gronant colony, managed by Denbighshire Countryside Services (DCS). Little Tern stalwart, Adrian Hibbert, delivered a fantastic speech about the successes achieved at Gronant over the last 5 years which have included becoming the largest colony in the UK in 2017 and the launch and rapid growth of North Wales Little Tern Group. It is with sadness that Adrian has moved on from DCS but will remain chairman of the group and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
Thanks to everyone who came down for the official opening ceremony of the Visitor Center and Hide at Gronant on a sunny and hot Sunday afternoon. We are grateful to Tony Thomas, lead for the environment in the council, for presenting a speech and cutting the ribbon. A group shot of the event is displayed below. It was a bit hot but refreshing drinks were flowing.
For something a little different, the following is a write-up by Maddalena, an Italian student doing a placement down at the tern colony a few weeks ago:
"I started my experience as a volunteer in the tern colony yesterday (19\06) and I was fascinated by all the work that’s put in the welfare of the birds. Being a foreigner I had never heard of the Little Terns before but I quickly recognised the beauty and importance of these shy sea birds and why they need our help to keep their nests safe and undisturbed. As a new and inexperienced volunteer my first day was spent mostly observing, listening and learning from the wardens that were fixing the damage done by the storm, but also helping actively by cleaning debris and carrying equipment, always careful not to step on the little chicks! A lot of work is put in to prevent predator attacks, checking the electric fences and making stone barriers to keep out the foxes and looking out for air predators such as the kestrel, but its noticeable these little birds are not defenceless, scaring away seagulls and dropping near your head to try to distance you from their nests. I really enjoyed my time there and the wardens have been nice and willing to tell me all about the colony and included me in their work whenever possible, even showing me one of the little chicks, but most importantly encouraging me to go look for a more naturalistic-oriented path for my future. I highly recommend trying the experience of volunteering in the colony, not only for its beauty but most importantly for what it can teach everyone."
In the next week most of the re-laid nests will hatch, but there will be high tides over the weekend. With the fairly benign weather there shouldn't be a repeat of a month ago but there may be debris to clear from fencing. Kestrels are around and taking some chicks but we are doing everything we can to reduce their damage to the colony. An update on that will be forthcoming once we know how successful the attempts at distracting them from tern chicks have been.