Ringing the changes

Sandwich tern flying with eel to nest - Bertie Gregory 2020VISION

Over at Cemlyn, with July nearly gone, the young terns are starting their migration – and this year we can begin to follow them!

For the very first time, a few weeks ago, licenced ringers put special “flags” on over one hundred Sandwich tern chicks. By 15 July, the oldest were already leaving their nesting sites: one was soon spotted at Rhos Point, Colwyn Bay and, the following day, five more were seen at Formby in Lancashire.

Sandwich tern ringing

Sandwich tern ringing © Phil Woollen (Taken under licence issued by Natural Resources Wales)

This year’s wardens – Mark, Ruth and Matilda – estimate that over 1,000 pairs of Sandwich terns have bred. It is difficult to be very accurate when estimating how many chicks have fledged but careful observations indicate a figure in the region of 800; with predation not appearing to have been a significant issue.  Cemlyn remains the only Sandwich tern colony in Wales, and one of the most important in the UK.

So, if you’re out birdwatching along the North Wales coast in the next few weeks, please look out for our terns and their rings (orange flags with three black letters – as shown in the photo)!  Do let us know where you see them and, if possible, which ring codes you see.  It's great to be able to keep track of our colony and we can all work together to do it – citizen science in action.