Saturday, 10 November 2018

Arctic Tern

Although we've had wet and windy weather for most of the last week, last night the south coast got a real battering so I was keen to spend time on the sea front this morning.  It was clear to see it had been a lively night...

Looking east from Spot On Kiosk


I wasn't expecting to see many birds passing, and I was right; just two Kittiwake and a Gannet flew by in the 45 minutes I was watching.  I was hoping more for a storm-blown Little Gull or such-like, and was encouraged by the 300+ Black-headed Gulls feeding at various points off the beach.  Sadly there was no Little Gull, but a cracking juv Arctic Tern more than made up for that!  It remained on view the whole time I was there, feeding close in between Fisherman's Gap and the mouth of the Axe.  It even came close enough to allow for some reasonable shots...

Black-headed Gull above the Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern showing off the white-trailing edge to its secondaries, this would be darker grey if it were a young Common Tern

Arctic Tern showing nice short all-dark bill and again those lovely pure white trailing edges to the secondaries

I took this when it was much further down the beach, but I wanted to show how juv Arctic Terns can look almost Sabine's-like at times - they have such contrasty wings quite unlike young Common Terns.


Later in the day, early afternoon, I was delighted to see the Arctic Tern again, but this time on the Estuary!  Only the third Arctic Tern I've ever seen on the Estuary - I've seen more Black Terns here!

Arctic Tern roosting with gulls

Arctic Tern resting on the water, lovely cute head and small bill obvious here

Arctic Tern flying down the Axe - perfect wing pattern on show here

Again, but this one is a video still. Best pic showing overall shape in flight


The wind was still quite strong early afternoon, and when it is so windy I find using 'flight-style' pretty useless when ID'ing terns, but here's a video anyway. Sorry it's so shaky...




I do apologise for the overload of photos of one tern, but we never do that well for any terns here really and Arctic Terns are scarce - you could easily go a year without seeing one.  So I just had to make the most of a lingering and fairly showy one, in my favourite plumage too!.  I'm pretty sure this is my latest ever Arctic Tern, but I have seen a later Common Tern here (which is unusual), with an adult on the Estuary on 13th Nov 2014 found by Tim Wright.  One day I will use these pics to do an ID post for juv Arctic vs Common - I just need to get some pics of a young Common Tern now! 

I had another look along the estuary later in the afternoon, when it was nice to get some good views of six Cattle Egret in the field just south west of Boshill Cross...

4 of the 6 Cattle Egrets

Looking where this Cattle Egret is stood I do wonder how often Cattle Egrets get pooped on!?


There weren't many gulls on the Estuary, but one of the most distant flocks contained a second-winter Yellow-legged Gull which was rather nice, not a common age here...

Third from right along the back, a nice long-winged bird

Yellow-legged Gull again with wings up showing tail pattern

Four species of gull here allowing good comparisons of mantle colours and size


Not a bad day really :-)

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