Friday, 8 May 2015

Common Terns

I was back over at Selsey today. My targets were to get a good picture of an Arctic Tern, to see a Cuckoo, and if there were Pomarine Skuas coming through, to get a look at those as well. There have been plenty of Cuckoos reported but, so far this year, I haven't even managed to hear one.

My first stops were the Pagham Harbour Visitor Centre and Church Norton looking for the Cuckoo. There were lots of small birds around in the bushes but no sign of the target bird. My best shot was of this Red-legged Partridge in the Church Yard.

Red-legged Partridge

Down at the bill things looked a bit slow, although there had been a couple of Arctic Skuas through earlier. I was told that there had been a Roseate feeding offshore so I decided to walk along the beach to take a closer look at the Terns. There were a few feeding over the water but with the tide rising the shingle bar was being covered and the Terns were moving onto the groynes to roost.

Terns at rest

Now all I needed to do was to find an Arctic Tern. The Sandwich Terns I can spot, the Arctics and a possible Roseate were a different level of problem.  I was looking for a Tern with slightly shorter legs, longer tail streamers, and a slightly paler upper-side, more the shade of the Sandwich Terns. Is there a difference?

When faced with this sort of problem I usually photograph everything and take the pictures home to check against the diagnostic details.

You only get about an hour before the groynes go underwater and the Terns move back out to sea. I took plenty of pictures and spent hours checking through them at home - and the conclusion - lots of pictures of Common Terns. There may have been an Arctic or a Roseate in amongst them, I may even have seen them, but I couldn't identify them.

The experts sitting at the bill can pick them out at a hundred metres and I struggle with the pictures two feet in front of my nose. I still have a lot to learn.

So here are a few pictures of Common Terns

and a Sandwich Tern

No success this time but I had great fun taking the pictures and I will be going back for another go.

I eventually caught up with a Cuckoo flying west to east along the North Wall at Pagham Harbour. It disappeared in the direction of Pagham Church but I did not bother pursuing it. By then the rain had set in and there was little chance of a picture.

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