Thursday, 7 June 2012

Summer plumaged Black Tern - a touch of beauty.

There are a few birds that really get me going, some for their rarity, some for their i.d. challenge, some because of the journey they have made and others because of their beauty. Summer plumaged Black Terns falls into this category. Seeing them in spring is very different to seeing them on an autumn seawatch. Today I chanced upon a pristine bird as it dip fed over the sea off Dinas Dinlle. As the tide came in, several Common, Arctic and Sandwhich Terns fed offshore and gave a good chance to brush up on Arctic / Common i.d. 100+ birds included a mixture of adult birds and several 2cy individuals. These birds looked much paler than the adults, lacking the greyness of adult plumage and I wondered how they would differ to Roseate Tern. A quick read of the literature and a new fact for me came to light - 2cy Roseates (1st summers) stay in the tropics and would not be encountered here, while many 2cy Common and Arctic follow the adults back here in spring. Other birds offshore between Dinas Dinlle and Fort Belan included 50+ Manx Sheatwaters, 20+ Gannet and 15+ Common Scoter. Elswhere, 2 drake Eurasian Wigeon in with the Mallards at the south end of the Foryd - rare birds in North Wales in June. While two late migrants on the long walk to Fort Belan were a single Greenland type Wheatear at the fort, while a very late White Wagtail was with the local breeding Pieds. Waders included 5 Sanderling, 3 Dunlin and 12 Ringed Plover.


  1. Interesting stuff Mark, and great to see Black Tern at this time of year. Interesting fact about 1st summer Roseate Tern, I saw one at Cemlyn in 2010, July I think. Stood out very well, and I also read they weren't meant to be this far north! It was ringed too.

  2. Nice one David. Just shows that there's so much to learn. Perhaps some 2cy Roseates do follow the adults north then. I can't seem to find any references to 1st summer Roseates in the UK or photos of this plumage. Still need to catch up with Roseate this year so will have to come over the Cemlyn for a day soon.

  3. Interesting what you say about 1st sum Roseate tern,a bird at Seaforth NR recently was assumed to be this species,but most observers have no experience of birds in this plumage,the hybrid theory also raised its head,with a mixed pair with a common tern breeding in Liverpool docks 2 years ago,and possibly last year,they raised at least one hybrid chick in hybrid young follow the Commons back or stay in Africa with the other 1st y Roseates photos here