Fencing has been put up on beaches at Gronant and Point of Ayr this week to protect the Little Terns returning from Africa. These seabirds nest nowhere else in Wales, and the groups that protect them are reminding visitors to keep dogs on the lead when visiting these beaches. Ringing shows that Little Terns visit this coast from other colonies around Britain and Ireland, and last year one came from a colony in Denmark. In winter they head to West Africa, where a Gronant-ringed Little Tern was re-caught in Guinea Bissau in November 2019, the most southerly record of any British Little Tern. The North Wales Little Tern Group hopes to retrieve tiny geolocators that were attached to some birds in 2019, which will provide insights to the birds’ travels for nine months of the year. They are also appealing for volunteers to help warden the sites.
The switch in wind direction has opened the doors for summer migrants awaiting encouragement to move north. Swifts arrived in numbers across the region, and so have waders that will move on to the Arctic Circle to breed. Dotterels have been on the Great Orme, Foel Fras and Cemlyn in the last week, the Alaw estuary hosted more than 250 Dunlins, 200 Ringed Plovers and a Curlew Sandpiper on Monday and there were also waders a-plenty in Foryd Bay and the Clwyd estuary. Whinchats were scattered along the coast, including 15 at Point of Ayr alone on Sunday, and Black Redstarts were at Aberdaron and RSPB South Stack. A couple of Yellow Wagtails at RSPB Conwy on Saturday included a ‘Channel Wagtail’, a hybrid of the continental Blue-headed variety with the near-endemic British form. A Wood Warbler singing outside the Leisure Centre in Queensferry was away from its usual habitat of western Atlantic oakwood - evidence that you can find birds pretty much anywhere during migration!