Wednesday, July 18, 2018

One Good Tern

The Common Terns at Conder Green are very unhelpful to anyone with a camera. Since they arrived in May they have kept their distance from the nearest viewing point. They are so fast, erratic and unpredictable in their flight patterns that it’s only possible to get a decent in-flight picture with a very fast and expensive lens. With its long tail streamers, general shape and zig-zag flight there’s a good reason that the species was once known colloquially as the “sea swallow”. It’s a term that has fallen out of fashion and one I never hear nowadays. 

Fortunately the pair that bred at nearby Glasson this year have been a little more obliging by resting occasionally, especially so this morning. There’s a question; did you ever see an adult tern sit on the water? I’m not sure I have. 

Common Tern 

Common Tern 

During the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s Common Terns bred on the north side marshes of the River Lune. Here and from either side of the river channel they became a daily spectacle fishing the tidal flows. The Common Tern was another one of those birds that we birders took for granted; no one imagined that such a numerous and easily seen species could vanish. Years of disturbance from weekend sailors, jet skis, wind surfers, walkers with & without dogs, plus miscellaneous nuisance and even deliberate destruction took its toll until the birds finally abandoned the River Lune.  

Fortunately, and after almost twenty years a pair arrived at Conder Pool in 2014 and bred successfully on an island situated relatively safe in the centre of the pool/small lake. Since then a pair have bred each year with every sign that the population might increase. Not that it will ever reach the dizzy heights of c250 pairs of Common Terns when the marsh colony peaked. 

Common Tern

Apart from the chance to photograph and be alone with a Common Tern, the other highlight of my morning was the sight of 50+ Swifts over Conder Pool. That’s a fairly good count that must include some birds of the year. Meanwhile there were just 20 or so House Martins around the creeks, plus a handful each of Swallows and Sand Martins. 

There was a single Kingfisher today. In addition - 190 Redshank, 20 Oystercatcher, 15 Lapwing, 4 Curlews, 3 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Little Grebe. 

It was almost 10am before I got to Jeremy Lane where I was in time to see a Barn Owl hunting across the fields. After sitting briefly along the fence it disappeared into the distance. I was to see another one later a good 3 miles away. It too did the same vanishing act. 

Swallows seem to have done well so far this year with my best count of 60+ in and around the fields up towards and including Cockersands. 


At Cockersands itself I spotted a Kestrel chased by Swallows plus singing Whitethroat and Reed Bunting; plenty of sparrows by way of a flock of about 40 House Sparrows & 12 Tree Sparrows and the usual collection of Collared Doves around the farm buildings. 

Tree Sparrow

House Sparrow

 Collared Dove

In the direction of Lighthouse Cottage were 20 or more Swallows, 5 Sedge Warbler, 5 Goldfinch 2 Reed Bunting and 2 Linnet.

Linking this post to Eileen's Blog.


Stuart Price said...

Great to hear the terns returned Phil...........

Bob Bushell said...

Beautiful Common Tern Phil, so good to see them. And the Swallow, which I did see so many like last year.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good afternoon Phil: Common Tern is indeed an exceptionally handsome bird and its flight antics, as is true of all terns, is a joy to watch. Not the best for photographers as you say, but that is hardly the point is it? I am very happy to hear that there seems to be the possibility that its numbers will increase in your local patch. Now we have to start a campaign to rename about Dazzling Aerialist, or Dancer in the Sky, Black-capped Buccaneer perhaps, or Red-legged Beauty.....anything but COMMON Tern for a decidedly uncommon bird.

Rhodesia said...

Great shots of the Tern, not sure that I have ever seen one. I am sure I have never seen a tree sparrow, on the other hand, I may well have mistaken it for a house sparrow if I had not taken a photo!!! Keep well Diane

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I love the Terns, great post and photos. Happy Friday, enjoy your day and weekend!

italiafinlandia said...

I like Terns, they are formidable flyers! They are a fairly common view in Finnish lakes. I have taken some shots, but never when they are sitting on the water, as you said.

Lowcarb team member said...

Such a wonderful selection of photographs …

All the best Jan

A Colorful World said...

Beautiful terns, and I always enjoy the swallows. Wonderful shots, Phil.

Betty Crow said...

Wonderful shots of the tern. Nice selection of birds. Hope you have a wonderful day.

mick said...

Great photos of the Tern and very interesting about the numbers that used to be seen in your area. Hope they increase now there is one breeding pair again. Common Terns are migrants to my area - they breed north in Asia and come here for a rest in the summer. btw from what I have read only some species of terns 'raft' or rest on the ocean - sorry don't remember which but it is in one of my books - somewhere!!

Lady Fi said...

A fine set of shots.

Fun60 said...

I like the name 'sea swallow'. They are beautiful to watch. Glad to hear they are successfully breeding near you.

Angie said...

Phil - what good news about the Terns … especially that this pair obliged you for some photos - we are all beneficiaries! In the end, I could not squeeze my bins into my suitcase, but I am still enjoying birdwatching, especially when we hiked a section of the Coastal Path on Tuesday.

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