Little tern

Little Tern Project

The little tern comes to the UK in the summer from West Africa to breed, arriving in early May and leaving in August. This is the smallest of five tern species in the UK, and is recognised by its short tail, white forehead and distinctive black tipped, yellow beak.


The group of terns found at Gronant beach near Prestatyn is the only breeding colony found in Wales. This site is internationally important as it contributes to over 10% of the entire UK breeding population as well as supplementing other important colonies.

These shy sea birds are very sensitive to any kind of disturbance. All tern species are quick to leave the nest when disturbed, in what is known as a dread. The smallest disturbance could mean a devastating decline in this vital colony. If you do go to visit the colony, please use the viewing platform that has been provided for you.


In 2005, the management of the colony was handed over from RSPB to Denbighshire Countryside Service. Since then the colony has continued to increase considerably, reaching 120 breeding pairs in 2011.

If you are interested in volunteering for countryside services and help the little terns, please contact Adrian Hibbert on

Little tern brooding young (John Power)


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