You’ve probably seen the film and know the central theme that ‘if you build it, they will come’. One of the core aims of the Roseate Tern LIFE Project is for its partners to undertake enhanced management and to provide the conditions needed for a re-expansion of roseate terns in the UK and Republic of Ireland. For the Project’s participating sites where rosie’s still visit and breed; increasing their numbers and resilience presents many challenges.
For sites recently abandoned by breeding roseate terns and where even sightings of the birds are few and far between, there is an increased urgency for pro-active management, habitat building and lateral thinking. At its’ Cemlyn Reserve, North Wales Wildlife Trust are building on a long tradition of active management and are providing new opportunities for terns to flourish and for the ‘rosies’ to come back to ‘mainland’ Wales.
The easy accessibility of the Cemlyn Reserve, its’ lagoon, islands and nesting terns is not restricted to human visitors. The fields, wetland and scrub that surround the Reserve provide a rich mosaic of habitat for many wildlife species, including mammal predators which cross the shallow waters of the lagoon to reach the tern colonies on their low lying islands. Several species of raptors are also regularly seen in the locality and the larger gulls are also daily visitors.
While Cemlyn's shingle ridge in its' current form is geomorphologically young, being thrown up in storm 'events', the lagoon behind the shingle was effectively created in the twentieth century. Cemlyn holds a rather special place in the history of conservation, given that it was one of the first places to benefit from pro-active management solely for the benefit of its birds. The site's history as a wildlife site is tied to the story of Captain Vivian Hewitt, who came to northern Anglesey in the 1930s, settling in Bryn Aber, now a large house that dominates the western end of the Cemlyn Reserve. A wealthy eccentric, Cpt Hewitt's passion for birds led him to construct a dam and weir at Cemlyn, which replaced the tidal saltmarsh with a large and permanent lagoon intended as a refuge for wildfowl. His legacy and the creation of a stable body of water with small islands provide Cemlyn's terns with their nesting sites and a positive tradition of management that the North Wales Wildlife Trust continue today.
There are undoubtedly many reasons why Cemlyn's common and Arctic terns failed to fledge chicks - including predations and possibly competition for nesting space on Cemlyn's lagoon islands. Competition for space on the two islands is of particular concern because of the threats of rising sea levels and increase the storm intensity as the effects of climate change take hold. Cemlyn's shingle ridge has been 'overtopped' by storm surges and high waves on increasingly frequent occasions.
Merely raising or expanding the lagoon islands for the benefit of the terns and other breeding birds is not a simple option given the potential for adverse effects on the SAC’s features of interest. However, Cemlyn and the surrounding seas and coasts of Anglesey are also included within the Anglesey terns potential Special Protection Area and NWWT, as managers of the Site, must also maintain and ensure the integrity of Cemlyn’s ternery.
‘If we build it, they might come.'