Thursday, 27 August 2009

Black Terns, Upton Warren

Upton Warren

An influx of these through the Midlands in the bad weather yesterday left three over the Moors Pool this morning. Without expecting them, they're easy to overlook initially. The adults have largely moulted into winter garb, which along with the juveniles’ plumage, renders them white below and only somewhat greyer above than common terns.

Their behaviour gives them away. Their constant, bouncy flight brackets swift plunges to the water’s surface to pick off insects. Closer inspection, even just through binoculars, reveals the darker shade, a hint of collar and, on the youngsters, a definite leading dark band to the wings. For contrast a common tern did join them later and was clearly bigger and sturdier too.

Despite missing the late spring’s black terns in breeding plumage, it was good to add these to the year list and moreover to my score from September last year, which now stands at 645. I used that date as the start point for my round-the-world twelve-month list but may push it back to October because I’m off to Malta in a couple of weeks. More of that later, I’m sure.

I spent an hour in the lapwing (east) hide, absorbing these birds plus a very obliging common sandpiper and male kingfisher. I know this now because it wasn't wearing “lippy”, as someone put it (the female has a red base to its bill).

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