Added: 1 month ago by Tata Steel
The Tata Steel Nature Reserve is home to one of the UK’s biggest common tern colonies and today 130 tonnes of shingle was moved from the shore on to the nesting islands by helicopter. The project, funded by Welsh Government, will safeguard the colony for years to come. Tata Steel apprentices have given their time to help clear the nesting islands and spread the newly dropped shingle, while the company has also donated steel which has been processed and used as a base for the stone.
The former British Steel company created the first safe nesting area for the common terns of the Dee Estuary in 1970 with the construction of a small raft on the cooling lagoons for the blast furnaces. It was an immediate success: 12 pairs nested and 17 chicks fledged. Since then more than 20,000 common tern chicks have hatched and flown from the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
Common terns are long-lived birds, often surviving for more than 20 years. With their normal wintering grounds on the West coast of Africa it means they can fly more than 250,000km in a lifetime, the equivalent of six times round the earth.
Bill Duckworth, Tata Steel Shotton site manager, said: “These delicate little seabirds are a delight to watch and I know everyone on the site is very proud that they choose to come back to us every year.
“We were glad to be able to work with Natural Resources Wales and the Merseyside Ringing Group to help give the nesting islands a new lease of life and provide a safe home for the next 20 years.”
Natural Resources Wales’ Senior Officer, Neil Smith said: “The Tata Steel Nature Reserve is a special site for the common tern and over the years we have worked alongside the owners of the site and Merseyside Ringing Group to help protect the local wildlife.
“The delivery of stone helps provide the seabird with its natural breeding grounds.”
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the steelworks in Shotton. Tata Steel is planning several activities and events, in co-operation with the local community, throughout the year to record and celebrate this milestone. These will culminate in an anniversary day in September.