Record number of Little Terns fledge at Flintshire site


A record number of Little Tern chicks successfully fledged from a Flintshire reserve this summer, with no fewer than 27 young birds leaving the nest at Point of Ayr.

The RSPB reserve held 20 pairs of the tern this season, with the birds thought to have chosen the area 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.

Some 20 pairs of Little Tern nested at RSPB Point of Ayr in North Wales this summer (Dave Williams).

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.

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"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."