Herring Gulls abandon nest in Aquasplash attraction
A pair of nesting seagulls who held up the opening of the popular Aquasplash attraction on Aberavon Beach have abandoned the nest paving the way for the opening of the facility to the public.
Neath Port Talbot Council was forced to delay opening its popular Aquasplash water park facility on Aberavon Beach last month after contractors found Herring Gulls nesting in one of its water features.
Council biodiversity officers confirmed a pair of Herring Gulls were nesting in the water feature, and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) the nesting pair could not be disturbed while the nest was occupied.
This week, the biodiversity officers who have been monitoring the nest found the birds missing and on Friday the nest was cleared from the site.
A damaged egg which had rolled out of the nest was discovered supporting the theory that predation by other gulls may have been responsible for the abandonment of the nest by the parent birds.
Although the mother bird spends most of her time on the nest it must occasionally leave to feed herself and if the nest is in an exposed position it could be vulnerable.
Opening the attraction would amount to disturbance under the act, and biodiversity staff also say that nesting birds will defend their eggs/chicks if approached.
The nest in Aquasplash was on a ‘tipping bucket’ feature and became quite full with rainwater.
Although the design of the feature meant that once it gets to a certain volume, it would automatically tip and potentially wash the nest away, any interference to prevent this could have led to abandonment by the birds, so was decided against.
Herring gulls are Red Listed birds – these are birds in the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man listed as being in most urgent need of help.
A spokeswoman for the council’s Countryside and Wildlife team said: “Sadly, as the nest was in such an exposed location when she left the nest to get food it would have been in a position to be easily predated by other gulls.
“Normally the nests would be in a corner of a roof or camouflaged amongst pebbles so as not to be visible. But as they chose to make the nest on a brightly coloured platform in the middle of the Aqua Splash – with no camouflage – it would be so easily have been spotted and grabbed by other gulls.
“It was noted there are a lot of other gulls in that area standing on adjacent roofs and lampposts who could easily spot the nest.
“We are sorry this has ended in this way but all was done as stipulated by law to ensure these gulls were left in peace while nesting but it appears the location of their nest was too exposed.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The contractors on site showed professionalism in understanding their obligation to the law and to the gulls. We will continue to monitor the site and will also be taking steps to prevent this reoccurring in future years.”
Celtic Leisure, which runs Aquasplash for the council, has cleaned the bucket and checked it is operational. Celtic Leisure staff have also increased the concentration of chlorine to make sure it is thoroughly disinfected while it runs normally over the weekend.
After more water quality sampling is completed Aquasplash should open to the public in the near future.
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