Work starts to protect rare little terns at Gronant

Little tern Other little tern colonies in the UK have already been lost, says the RSPB

Related Stories

Work is under way to protect one of the UK's rarest seabirds.

Little terns breed on a shingle beach in north Wales, they return each April from Africa to nest at the Gronant dunes on the Dee estuary but there is a warning the birds are threatened by climate change.

A five-year EU partnership aims to make sure the bird has a long-term recovery in Wales.

Beach visitors, in particular, are being urged to give the birds space.

The RSPB says other UK little tern colonies - on the Tees and in Lincolnshire - have already been lost because of changes to the UK coastline, and predictions of increased coastal flooding and sea level rises could spell further disaster for these elegant tiny seabirds.

Colin Wells, site manager for the RSPB on the Dee Estuary Reserve has helped erect and maintain a predator exclusion fence, and monitor breeding numbers at Gronant.

He said: "These dainty little seabirds, no heavier than a tennis ball, have just started returning to our shores and travelling thousands of miles from their wintering sites off the south and west coasts of Africa.

Winter storms mean less shingle on the beach used by breeding little terns

"We need to make sure that they have the best chance of finding a suitable home when they arrive."

He said the local community could help by giving the little tern the space to breed undisturbed. Beach visitors are advised to observe local signs and avoid entering certain areas during the season.

Fifty per cent of the work in Gronant has been funded by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and a local caravan business Haven Leisure at nearby Presthaven has also contributed.

Adrian Hibbert, from Denbighshire county council countryside service, said the little terns were one of the species "most vulnerable" to climate change, with the beaches they need to breed quickly becoming unsuitable because of rising seas and floods.

"In the past the areas lost to flooding or storms would be offset by new areas of sand or shingle thrown up by the sea," said Mr Hibbert.

"This is now being prevented by hard sea defences and other man-made developments.

"The result, known as coastal squeeze, means beaches are getting narrower and the little terns are quickly running out of space."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC North East Wales

Weather

Wrexham

Min. Night 8 °C

Features & Analysis

  • Martin Gardner as a young manThink hard

    Was this man the world's greatest puzzle master?


  • Carved pumpkinTrick or treat

    What did a riot at a pumpkin festival show about race in US?


  • A woman puts on a surgical mask during hospital Ebola training in Alabama.'Dark continent'

    Is prejudice fuelling Ebola outbreak hysteria in the US?


  • Oscar de la Renta and Oprah WinfreyIn pictures

    The life and work of Oscar de la Renta


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FutureThe future is now

    Get the latest updates and biggest ideas from BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit

Programmes

  • Smart glassesClick Watch

    Smart spectacles go into battle – the prototypes looking to take on Google Glass

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.