Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Little Tern Action

Great to hear a Common Whitethroat rattling away in the garden this morning plus a trickle of Barn Swallows throughout the area. Car was fixed this afternoon - at last, so sped off towards Porthmadog for provisions and a wild Sterna hunt. Weather was absolutely lovely for a change with warm broken sunshine, cool breeze and a few showers later.

Walking along the Cob, I noticed a half-dozen Northern Wheatears and a few Rock Pipits. A female Merlin whizzed over spooking the waders and gulls. I met another serious local patch obsessive - Elfyn Lewis - and got stuck into some distant tern action. Flocks of Arctic Terns were heading in off the sea to the confluence of the rivers Glaslyn and Dwyryd and dropping down to bathe and roost on the sandbanks. Occasionally groups would fly high up, head inland a bit, then circle back, 'chickening out' of going inland (or sussing out routes for later?). At one point I counted 123 individuals but with distant views and much activity there could have been many more.

I always find it completely mind-blowing to consider the migratory feats of these birds!

To quote Pat Monaghan, writing in the monumental B.T.O. Migration Atlas 

"The Arctic Tern moves on a global scale, performing the most remarkable and extensive migratory journeys undertaken by any bird... It breeds north to higher latitudes than any other tern.... In the non-breeding season it heads south to the Antarctic seas.... involving a return, straight-line journey of 20,000 km"

What a traveller! I also saw a single Little Tern with one flock and Elfyn had another earlier although there was no sign of any of the previous evening's Black Terns.

A flock of 35 Eiders were a surprise in flight way out towards Morfa Harlech (with another group of 21 that might possibly have been different birds?). More regular these days was the spectacle of a male Osprey hunting over the marshes - and our heads - for at least 30 minutes - what great views of a brilliant bird!

At least nine Bar-tailed Godwit included four absolutely stunning brick red summer plumage males while other waders included a few Dunlin and 34 Whimbrel, with several small parties heading inland. Finally, my first Swift of the year headed over - a nice end to a great couple of hours of avian action.

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