Posted: Tue 20th Oct 2020

Record number of rare sea bird chicks born at Flintshire nature reserve

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2020

A record number of rare sea bird chicks were born at a Flintshire nature reserve, a new record for the site. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (RSPB) Point of Ayr nature reserve saw twenty pairs of terns nested and twenty seven of their chicks successfully leave. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

They are thought to have come to the site to avoid unseasonable weather and higher tides at their usual nesting site, demonstrating the importance of ensuring they have plenty of safe places to breed along the coast. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Little terns are the UK’s second rarest breeding seabird, spend the winter in West Africa and migrate to Britain in the summer to breed on the soft sand of the beaches. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Nests are vulnerable to many different threats and pressures such as predation, human disturbance and flooding. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

If able to breed successfully, little terns will often return to the same nesting beach. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Dan Trotman, RSPB Visitor Experience Manager, said “We couldn’t believe it when so many little terns turned up at RSPB Point of Ayr this year. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“It was a real privilege to have these special birds nesting on the reserve and we hope they return in 2021. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Through careful habitat management we’ve created a suitable nesting sites for these seabirds, this year it’s been fantastic to see this hard work pay off.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​



There is only one other little tern colony in the area – Gronant, which is managed by Denbighshire County Council. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Jim Kilpatrick, Senior Ranger for Denbighshire County Council, said “This year, birds which failed to nest at Gronant due to adverse weather events are thought to have relocated to Point of Ayr, Talacre. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Historically, there were a number of small little tern colonies scattered along the North Wales coastline, but many were lost due to habitat change and human disturbance. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The terns are incredibly sensitive to habitat changes, favouring areas of sand and small shingle. It is incredibly important that the terns have these alternative suitable nesting sites, should conditions become unfavourable at their usual site. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Without these additional sites and protective measures in place, the terns could potentially fail to breed altogether, which over time can lead to the loss of the entire colony. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“For this reason, it is incredibly important that we continue to work together to protect the terns and the habitats they require to thrive.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​


Dan Trotman added: “It’s brilliant that we were able to provide the little terns with a safe haven and escape the unusual weather at Gronant. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“I’m not sure where the birds would have gone without this habitat. It really demonstrates how we need to ensure these incredible birds have plenty of suitable homes along our coastline, which was a key part of the EU LIFE-funded Little Tern project which ended last year. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“It’s not enough to just protect current little tern nesting beaches – we need to be looking at potential future sites, to help provide some options for nesting sites.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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