Elusive Tern

Saturday, August 10, 2013 Adam Tilt 3 Comments


I'm sure we've all experienced relationships that don't quite go to plan. You put in the effort year after year and still feel like you're the only one that's properly invested in making things work. Unlike me however you're opposite number probably isn't a Roseate Tern. Perhaps I should explain.

Back in 2008 my interest in birds was rekindled following a move to South Wales and the realisation that a wealth of wildlife was to be found literally on my doorstep. Those early months were full of exploration with the discovery of Sandwich Terns between Burry Port and Pembrey Harbour being a particularly memorable day. Not only were they a completely new species for me but here I was, barely half an hour from home and with hundreds of these noisy birds collected together for my viewing pleasure. Since then they've become something of an annual pilgrimage at this time of year and regular readers will no doubt have seen my most recent visit detailed here just over a week ago. 

There is however a shadow waiting in the wings (no pun intended). Each time I visit, and this is literally without exception, a Roseate Tern is reported within the next couple of days. Obviously I rush back at the earliest opportunity and again, without exception, the Tern has vanished. History repeated itself this week when a Roseate was reported on Tuesday just four days after I'd last been in attendance. It was there again on Wednesday so the following day I was back well before high tide to watch the roost. Immediately it was obvious that Sandwich Tern numbers had increased to well over a hundred whilst the number of Mediterranean Gulls remained constant at around the ten to twenty mark. As you can imagine this was a fantastic sight but it did make picking out one particular bird slightly more difficult.

P1050949 - Sandwich and Common Terns, Burry Port
 Common amongst Sandwiches

Half an hour later and I'd looked at every individual present and was once again safe in the knowledge that the Roseate had done a bunk. There was a brief moment when I thought the stars had aligned but a clearer view revealed a Common Tern instead of its rarer relation. Again very nice to see but not what I was after. There were consolation prizes of course with a small flock of Dunlin and another perfect demonstration of how fast the tide rises along this coast. Let's just say that it's worth keeping an eye on your feet while scanning with binoculars! As for the Roseate it remains an enigma, a paradox if you will where by the two of us shall never meet. In a way I quite like that. After all, wouldn't life be boring without the occasional nemesis to test your mettle.

3 comments:

  1. The beauty of watching the birds Adam.
    Always one, or sometimes more, that elude us. But that's what makes us keep coming back for more.

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  2. It will keep you returning for years to come. What a tease :)

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  3. Fingers crossed... you will tick your list one day

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