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Little Terns summer home ready for arrivals

A famous UK bird colony site is ready to welcome back its annual occupants.

Gronant Dunes is once again open for business to welcome the arrival of the Little Terns this season thanks to the support of Denbighshire Countryside Rangers, North Wales Little Tern Group and other volunteers.

The team has worked this month to prepare the area of the largest breeding colony found in Wales for the arrival of the summer visitors.

Situated on the shingle of Gronant Dunes the area is known internationally as it contributes to over 10 percent of the entire UK breeding population as well as supplementing other Little Tern colonies. Gronant and Point of Ayr are the only breeding colonies in Wales.

Towards the end of the month and into May the Little Terns will flock into to the site from the west coast of Africa to breed and then head back South to the continent with newly fledged chicks. Last year 155 fledglings were recorded at the site.

For nearly two decades Denbighshire Countryside Service has managed the colony (together with its satellite colony at Point of Ayr), with the help of North Wales Little Tern Group.

North Denbighshire Coastal Ranger Claudia Smith explained: “We have been busy getting ready for the arrival of the Little Terns at the colony site. Thanks to support of the many fantastic volunteers who have joined us on site, we have been able to set up the colony area which includes constructing electric fencing, an outer rope fence and hides

A 3.5km perimeter fence and three kilometres electric fence stretch along the beach area to protect the birds from ground predation, these will be taken down at the end of the season to ensure a no trace policy on the area which is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Claudia added: “We have this set up as the birds are very vulnerable to human disturbance and they are also at risk from predators both in the air and on the ground. Our team of wardens will once again be present from early May at the Visitors Centre to protect the birds, talk to visitors to the site and also collect the all important informant about this year’s colony.

Emlyn Jones, Head of Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services, said: “For nearly two decades Countryside teams alongside volunteers have worked extremely hard to protect and support this site to make the colony a real area of significance for protecting the future populations of the Little Terns. They can all be immensely proud of what they do to maintain this bustling colony on Gronant Dunes.

If you are interested in volunteering or visiting the colony site, please contact claudia.smith@denbighshire.gov.uk or 07785517398.

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