Tern up for a seabird spectacle at RSPB Point of Ayr

Monday 8 August 2016

One of Britain's most threatened seabirds, the little tern, has successfully nested at the Point of Ayr on the RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve for the second year running.

There were celebrations last year after the discovery of one nest on a shingle area of the reserve, beside the beach at the popular holiday spot Talacre. It was hoped the birds would return this year as the RSPB have been able to offer them greater protection from predators and other disturbance than ever before.

Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager for the RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve, said: "Last year's breeding success was a huge result for the reserve which the RSPB leases from Natural Resources Wales. It's testament to the thriving little tern colony a mile along the coast at Gronant, which is managed by Denbighshire County Council and supported by the RSPB. An EU funded project was established in 2013 to help little tern numbers recover around the UK, and this year we secured some money to purchase electric fencing, which has allowed us to offer greater protection to these vulnerable ground-nesting birds.

"In May, as the birds were first returning from Africa for the breeding season, there was quite a lot of little tern activity around the Point of Ayr, so we were hopeful we might build on last year's success. Regular monitoring by the reserve team indicated that one pair of little terns had nested yet again, within the electric fence we installed, which is fantastic."

Two chicks successfully fledged in mid-July, marking a second year of breeding success on the reserve. However, the terns will only stick around the area for another couple of weeks before starting their long journey back to Africa for the winter. They will be joined by others from breeding colonies around North Wales and North West England. The rich waters at the mouth of the Dee Estuary are a vital feeding area for terns to build up their strength before migration.

Dan added: "We're running a guided walk offering visitors the chance to get close to the spectacle of up to a thousand terns diving for fish and settling on the reserve at high tide. There will also be a variety of other birds to be seen including waders on migration to Africa, plus others returning to the estuary for the winter. There's nothing quite like it, seeing hundreds of these delicate seabirds plunge beneath the waves and emerge with a fish in their beak, then gradually shuffling up the beach as the tide rises."

The 'Terns and Waders' event takes place on Saturday 20 August, 10.30 am-2.30 pm. It is free of charge, with donations welcomed on the day to help support the reserve. The walk crosses sand dunes so a reasonable level of fitness plus appropriate clothing and footwear are required. Booking is essential by phoning0151 353 8478 or email deeestuary@rspb.org.uk. For more information visit www.rspb.org.uk/pointofayr

Tagged with: Country: England Topic: Reserves