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.
After a week of finishing touches and getting the pens electrified we are now ready for Little Terns to start nesting. Numbers of terns peaked at 120 on the bank holiday Monday (11/05) but became harder to see after that as the weather had been a bit cold. With the warmer weather this coming week we are hoping they will start nesting. High tides could be an issue so we'll keep a close eye on that situation and may have some debris to clear from fencing on 16th-17th. The wardens will be on site to meet any volunteers and visitors from now on. There will be tasks such as predator watches, public engagement and monitoring to help with in the coming weeks so please come down.
The photo above shows the view from the new monitoring hide, access to which members of the North Wales Little Tern Group are allowed. The hide is situated adjacent to one of the breeding pens and will offer unrivaled views of the breeding Little Terns. There are already nesting Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers on view. If you are interested in using it please ask the warden on duty. N.B. it may not be possible to use the hide on occasions due to bad weather or if it needs to be used for other purposes.