Gronant Dunes


Well it’s been a busy old week and a sharp learning curve for me as well. First of all I had a problem with my camera which took me ages to resolve, but hopefully that’s sorted.

Then probably the biggest step I have taken with my photography since I changed from Pentax and moved to Olympus, I ditched Adobe and have moved to ON1 Photo RAW for cataloguing and processing my photographs.

Photoshop is not a verb. It is a noun. It is the means to an end, not the end itself – Vincent Versace

I’ve used Lightroom and Photoshop ever since I can remember, Lightroom more than Photoshop but just recently I have found that Adobe Camera Raw doesn’t handle the Olympus RAW file very well. That’s how I see it you may not if you are an Olympus user.

Anyway going back to the camera problems. To test it I decided to take a walk at Gronant Dunes an internationally important Wetlands Site about 10 minutes drive from my house.

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/1600 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 200

Because of its importance Gronant Dunes is one of the most protected nature reserves along the stretch of coast from Llandudno in the west to Talacre in the north-east.

Largely unmodified, the dunes are the only surviving remnants of a sand dune system which bordered this particular stretch of coast.

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/2000 sec @ f/5.9 ISO200

The dune area, including the wetlands and beach are pretty extensive and there’s a fair amount of walking to do if you want to visit the beach…

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/1600 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200

…and the path doesn’t take a straight line. It has to run parallel to the beach for sometime to avoid the wetlands.

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/20 sec @ f/22 ISO 64

If you take your camera, be prepared for low flying birds

Wetlands 1
Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/2000 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200

to suddenly just pop from the reed beds

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/1600 sec @ f/5.9 ISO 200

Eventually you will come to the boardwalk leading down to the beach. This area was pretty muddy underfoot. We’ve not had rain in a few days so it might be overflow from water running through the site.

Boardwalk Across The Marsh 1
Olympus E-M1 Mk 2 1/2000 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200

Talking of water, be careful if you visit with children, in fact be careful if you are an adult. There are some deep areas of water, most of them signposted, but not always.

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/800 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200
Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/800 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200

Anyway let’s go back to the  boardwalk and getting to the beach. As you can see it does stretch for a bit. Although it’s not as far as it looks, perspective tends to play a part in this view. But it is a walk if you also consider the path from the car park, then the walk running parallel to the wetlands for a bit, before reaching the boardwalk.

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/2500 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200

The reserve is a haven for wildlife, with the extinct, at least in Wales, Natterjack Toad being reintroduced. Dotted around the dunes you can see these little ponds, fenced off to protect the toads from human intervention.

Natterjack Toad Pond
Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/640 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200

Gronant Dunes also provides a habitat for the only Little Tern breeding colony in North Wales. These birds fly in from West Africa, usually arriving in May and then depart in late August. This was my first visit to the Tern colony and I wasn’t expecting to see many this early in the season.

Beach Shelter
Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/2500 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 200

From here it’s a short walk along the beach to the colony.

E-M1 Mk2 1/2000 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200
E-M1 Mk2 1/2000 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200

The tern’s nest on the beach, amongst those stones, but they are very nervous and sensitive to any type of disturbance. For this reason the area is roped off to prevent us getting too close. But you can still see them.

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/800 sec @ f/6.7 ISO200
Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/800 sec @ f/6.7 ISO200

The Terns at Gronant contribute over 10% of the UK breeding population and to further protect the colony the breeding area is fenced off. This helps to prevent dogs and some predators reaching the nesting birds. On Monday, wardens will take up duty, monitoring the colony through the summer months.

Yesterday I was talking to a volunteer to was monitoring the birds, He told me that Foxes and Hedgehogs can cause untold damage if they get into the breeding site, hence the fence. But there’s also the aerial danger. Birds of prey, gulls, crows, all will have a go.

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/2500 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200
Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/2500 sec @ f/5.6 ISO200

The fence posts around the site, make great perches where they could drop into the colony so they are all topped with these home-made spikes to prevent them perching there.

Olympus E-M1 Mk2 1/1000 sec @ f/8 ISO200

Despite the fact that it was a nice sunny day, bit of a cold breeze though, once I left the car park and got onto the path I didn’t see anyone until I reached the Little Tern colony and spoke to the volunteer.  On the way back I met this lady sitting on a log washed up onto the beach but she didn’t acknowledge my hello, so I guess she wanted to be left alone.

That’s it. I hope you enjoed the walk in Gronant Dunes with me – Mike

9 thoughts on “Gronant Dunes

    1. I’ve found a problem, relating specifically to Windows machines I think. I have a lot of photographs. If I catalogue them in ON1 RAW it slows down dramatically and seems to hog the processor. So for the minute I have turned off the cataloguing whilst I wait for the update, supposedly due this month.

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      1. I tried to switch back on my Tidbits blog and it seemed like a really scary process so I left it as it is. Luckily that blog is short on text. Glad you were able to get switched back.

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