Sunday, July 13, 2014

Well Terned Out

From the bedroom window at 5am dawn appeared as grey skies and rain spotted puddles. I went back to bed for another sleep vowing to try later. 

I've neglected Knott End birding for weeks of mid-summer. So with a late start, a freshening wind and high tide due at midday I decided to spend an hour or two at the estuary in the hope of seeing returning waders and terns; it’s here where the River Wyre meets the huge expanse of Morecambe Bay. People and vehicles sometimes come to grief here when they fail to appreciate the speed of the incoming tides, the softness of the exposed beach or the whereabouts of patches of quicksand. 

Motoring - Knott End style

It's barely mid-July but already there are good numbers of post-breeding Oystercatchers and I counted 340+ leaving the shore, most heading up river to roost, the remainder flying towards an alternative roost at Pilling. The 35 Curlew and 12 Dunlin flew up river too, the Dunlin split 50/50 black- bellied adults and plainer juveniles. I thought it odd not to see a single Redshank today in contrast to the good numbers there have been a few miles up the coast at the River Lune. 



A walk up river didn’t produce much apart from a single Lapwing, a lonesome Eider, a Pied Wagtail and 30/40 Black-headed Gulls. As I walked the Oystercatchers kept coming in their tens and twenties flying south to their roost a mile away at Barnaby’s Sands/Burrows Marsh. 

By now the wind was quite blowy and cool so I donned a jacket to sit at the jetty where the ferry leaves to cross for Fleetwood, all of four hundred yards away. A Peregrine coasted by not too far out, the bird in no hurry as Peregrines mostly are. It was headed Pilling way flying so lethargically that I failed to appreciate what it was until too late - fooled, no picture. 

Fleetwood and The River Wyre viewed from Knott End

A couple of Sandwich Terns came in from the north with the tide, searched around for a while and then left towards the Fleetwood side of the river just as quickly as they appeared. 

Sandwich Tern

There wasn’t an awful lot doing and I was about to call it a morning when a Black Tern appeared from somewhere out in the bay; a most unexpected arrival. The tern wasn’t feeding but flew and high over the water towards Fleetwood and then up river until of sight. From the fairly brief and overhead views the bird appeared to be an adult in full or mostly full summer plumage. 

Black Terns breed in good numbers in the Low Countries of Europe from where this one may have originated and then travelling overland to reach North West England. Just like many wader species at this time of year many adult Black Terns leave breeding colonies in July before the juveniles follow suit in August and September.

Black Tern - Photo credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Foter / (CC BY 2.0)

A rewarding end to a few hours of birding, and I’m pleased I turned out instead of sitting around the house! 

No apologies for the excruciating puns. Let’s hope they won’t deter anyone from revisiting Another Bird Blog soon.


Rohrerbot said...

Nicely done! Sounds like a very productive morning. Although I would not be keen on driving along the beach with fast moving tides:) That is a bit scary:) Migrations have begun! And we are keeping our eyes open for some good birds right now!

Bob Bushell said...

Beautiful shots you've made. Curlew, Sandwich Tern and Black Tern, lovely photos.

eileeninmd said...

Gorgeous scenery and beautiful birds, Phil! That Black Tern keeps hiding from me.. One of my favorite in this post is the pretty Curlew! Great post, happy birding!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Lovely birding day. It's pretty much impossible for me to talk about terns without using a pun. So you are forgiven.

Russell Jenkins said...

Striking wader pics, Phil and love that Sandwich Tern. Terns are beautifully designed.

Christian Perrin said...

Quicksand! That's a wholly unexpected danger added to our favourite hobby!

Great that you saw the Black Tern - I love those sudden thrills that birdwatching offers.

I admire your efforts to count birds, Phil. I've started doing it myself but never feel confident with estimates. I think I will look further into methods, etc.

mick said...

Very interesting to see that great expanse of bay - and I can just imagine how vehicles could get stuck out there. I especially like your in-flight photos and the Black Tern is especially beautiful.

carol l mckenna said...

Sounds like you had a great time with nature and certainly captured so well, the treasures to be seen ~ thanks, ^_^

artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

Fun60 said...

Another good bird watching session. A peregrine - wow.

Adam Jones said...

That's a particularly smart Dunlin. Having said that, the Curlew looks very nice too. Great shots.

LindyLouMac said...

Here commenting today as an Our World Tuesday participant. Great bird captures

lotusleaf said...

Great photos.

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