A season of successes for Gronant Dunes and the Little Terns
“Possibly the BEST DAY EVER!”, “I don’t want to leave!”, “Thank you so much for bringing us here!”
These are just some of the sentiments that have been said this season from the school groups that have visited Gronant and the little terns.
This season saw the beginning of a new focus for the little tern colony at Gronant, which was brought on by the transition from EU Life+ funding to the Welsh Government’s Landfill Disposal Tax Community Scheme, administered by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).
The focus was to introduce this site with all its wonders to the local communities of Rhyl and Prestatyn to help in the conservation of the little terns and other resident species.
For the community to be able to help conserve the Gronant dunes site and the inhabiting species, they first need to know about it. It is a tucked away site that even some people who have lived there all their lives don’t know about. The best way to achieve this is through schools. They are the keystones of the local communities that have far reaching effects, because if you can inspire the children and the teachers the message will be passed onto the parents and onwards. In total five primary schools and one secondary school took part, with three to four classes visiting from each, totalling 450 children and teachers. At this age everything is exciting, and this enthusiasm is key to learning. So, instead of just showing and telling about the terns, they learnt through actively taking part.
The outdoor classroom was heavily based around the beach, because what child doesn’t love the beach? The terns provided a good focus for the day. After showing them the colony, they went to the beach and took part in activities that allowed them creative freedom while just being allowed to be children and play. This included beachcombing and making egg box treasure chests, building little tern nests, making little tern beach murals, painting Gronant rocks, crafting sea creatures, and some little tern based beach games.
We have set off a ripple effect. We are getting more families and more members of the public out and about enjoying the outdoors, encouraging the development of a more respectful attitude towards their surrounding environment and the desire to get involved in its conservation.
And of course, what about the terns?
Have they had just as good a season as us? The answer is undoubtedly yes! This has been one of the best seasons yet, with good levels of protection from 3km of electric fencing put up by Council staff and North Wales Little Tern Group volunteers, and sterling wardening by both we have seen low levels of predation, which alongside favourable weather conditions have put us on track for record numbers of fledglings.
So a season of successes all round!
For this work to continue the critical thing is to promote communal ownership of our natural spaces and environment, these are our spaces to enjoy and protect. It isn’t solely the job of local authorities, NGOs, or other landowners, it is the job of all of us who use and enjoy these sites. The community and the terns exist in symbiosis at Gronant, mutual benefits are gained by each other’s presence, thus making the funding from the WCVA so critical to both. These natural spaces are all of ours’, for the benefit of nature and the community, that’s what we hope to show here at Gronant.