The Gronant dunes lie between Prestatyn and Talacre along the North Wales coast. This area has a wild, open aspect which contains a multitude of rare species and this is recognised by many of the conservation designations the area has including SSSI, Ramsar, SPA and SAC status. Little Terns are not the only protected species that make their home here, others occur in the dunes including Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads.
The site is a fantastic place for Orchids in summer with five species including swathes of Pyramidal Orchids carpeting the rolling dunes. Other wildflowers include Sea Holly, Sea-lavender, Sea Purslane, Sea-spurrey and hundreds of other species. Lepidoptera are well represented with a colony of the rare Sandhill Rustic and the Dark Green Fritillary making their homes here. The video below is courtesy of Destination Conwy and includes an overview of the site and some of the wildlife present.
The dune system is accreting, offering more habitat over time. The dune slacks now provide habitat for species such as breeding Cetti's Warblers, wintering Marsh Harrier and Short-eared Owls, plus a huge Starling roost, in the region of 200,000 birds. The warblers are particularly well represented and includes a few pairs of the skulking Grasshopper Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. Passage migrants often call in including Wheatears and Whinchats.
The photos below show a selection of the species found in the dunes - Sea Holly, Natterjack Toad, Sea-lavender, Grasshopper Warbler and Pyramidal Orchid. The Toad and the Warbler are rather hard to see but the plants should be located with relative ease.
It is a 20 minute walk northwards from the Shore Road car park (free parking here) to the Little Tern colony. The walk takes you over the railway bridge, out in to the dunes, across the Prestatyn gutter, past the dune lake and on to the boardwalk with carries on to a viewing platform by the sea. Take a right turn before the viewing platform and you will end up at the visitor center where there is often someone around to greet you, show you the terns and answer any questions you have about the project. We urge people to view from the visitor center rather than the beach as this causes less disturbance to the terns. Good views can be obtained from here. See the illustrated map below for a more detailed view of how to reach the colony. The route is not currently suitable for disabled people due to the nature of the terrain and path strata but there are plans to improve access in the future.
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