Talacre

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Talacre sits at the mouth of the Dee Estuary and has always been a treacherous point for shipping. Talacre lighthouse was built in 1777 to mark the entrance to the estuary following the loss of two ships, their crew and cargo. It originally displayed two lights, the main beam shining seaward towards Llandudno and a secondary beam shone up the River Dee. It was taken out of use in 1883, replaced by the Dee light-ship, but remains one of Flintshire’s most treasured landmarks, constantly photographed and even featuring on television in a Dulux advert!

The wide sandy beaches of Talacre have long attracted holidaymakers. Numerous wooden chalets dotted the sand dunes of Talacre Warren and many Merseysiders have happy memories of childhood holidays spent there They have now been replaced by more modern caravan parks but the beach and dunes have not lost their appeal.

The dunes are equally attractive to a host of wildlife. By night, the dunes are the haunt of one of Wales’ rarest creatures, the natterjack toad. At one time when the sand dunes extended along the North Wales Coast to Anglesey, these quirky toads who run on their short strong legs and have a distinctive yellow stripe on their back, were much more common but, as the dunes reduced and the caravan parks extended, the natterjacks suffered and were extinct in Wales by the 1960s. But they were reintroduced to Talacre dunes about ten years ago and are doing well, breeding in the brackish pools. Another rarity successfully reintroduced to Talacre in 2003 is the sand lizard, the most colourful and striking of the three British lizards.

Each summer a colony of little terns return from Africa to nest on the shingle at Gronant, to the west of Talacre, the only breeding colony in Wales. Look for the acrobatic terns hovering above the sea or diving for fish and listen to their raucous cries near their nesting site on the shingle at Gronant.

Many colourful and unusual flowers flourish in the dunes. Look for spiky sea holly, tall yellow flowered evening primrose, sea spurge and a mass of marsh and pyramidal orchids.

The flowers attract many bees, butterflies and moths, including the distinctive red and black burnet moth, and beetles and other invertebrates also thrive.

In summer the dunes resound with birdsong. Listen for skylarks singing as they soar high into the air and smaller meadowpipits, also delicate warblers, well camouflaged but with melodious song, stonechats and wheatear. Kestrels and buzzards are commonly seen above the dunes searching for prey and, at dawn or dusk you may glimpse a short eared owl hunting.

Point of Ayr colliery was the last pit in North Wales to close in 1996. Energy generation continues to be an important part of local industry with a gas terminal and the wind turbines out at sea.