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Saturday, 16 June 2012

Storyville – West Africa to Preston Dock! Part 2

Hi... I did say sometime ago that I 'wanted to tell you a storwie', and there was a part 2; my apologies it has taken me some time to get around to it – I wish I could say because of the birding, but afraid not. Anyhoo, here we go, part 2 – the images are taken over several days in May (sometimes when the sun was out!)

The Common Terns disappear off fishing, returning with their catch for their mate (or youngsters depending); which can result in aerial antics not only from other Common Terns but other gulls as well and sometimes more than one pursuer. I've included images that demonstrate, this can happen at some distance and some height, indeed the Common Terns climb until out of sight (or my poor eyesight)... but eventually they return.

Occasionally something upsets the terns, in this instance a barge too close to the roosting site, whereupon they ALL take off and the air is full of raucous screaming terns, generally going ballistic.... before returning to base. More noise, posturing, greetings and disputes.

The male seems to do most of the fishing, understandably (although aren't women supposed to be better at catching fish than men?) and as they leave they appear to wash-off the lipstick; leaving someone on their lonesome.

Throughout, different pairs are at different stages, I guess it makes sense for the colony as a whole, some may fail but by spreading the development over a period of weeks, someone will succeed. The male shown mounting the female sat there for about five minutes, perfectly balanced on her back before copulation.

Nests appear at different times, Fylde Bird Club have assisted and encouraged the colony with the painted tyres and supply of pebbles (I think we need a few more but understand the access problems). The birds will leave their nests to greet and grab any incoming fish before returning to brood the eggs or swap, the male does do his turn at brooding sometimes. Some of the nests are in the tyres, others among the pebbles and the odd one on virtually nothing. This year a couple of nests are at the end of the pontoons, quite close to the edge and in a decent wind I have seen the waves lap this far up, so it will be interesting to see if they succeed.

I haven't been out for a while but I know the first few eggs have hatched and a number of young are in the colony. Another update to follow I guess.

For all those who know, and those that don't, these images are taken from a distance on the public promenade with no disturbance to the birds and as you know, double-clicking an image enlarges a slideshow.

retuning from fishing trip


in pursuit

time to return

we are not amused

time to return, but still making a point


is never straight forward

local dispute

tyres seem to be the safest place

'lipstick'... yuk!

"are you lonesome tonight, do you miss me tonight, are you sorry we drifted apart?"

ya got ya fish!

five minute balancing act, central axis of gravity?

a personal moment
eggs in pebbles on the right

greeting, same nest, eggs in pebbles on left

returning to brood

the male was rearranging pebbles with his bill

a single egg

too close to the edge?
"Does your memory stray to a brighter summer day".....

 "shall I come back again..."


Martin Jump said...

Wonderful insight into the day to day lives of these swallows of the see told with both words and wonderful images well done Geoff mj.

Brian Rafferty said...

Geoff. Great results and a wonderful account of a typical day spent in the company of our wonderful tern colony. I must bump into you sometime soon...meantime take care and enjoy your days out with the camera.

Pete Woodruff said...

Excellent illustrated account of the 'Preston Docks' Common Terns Geoff.

I wonder just how long it will be before we 'bump into' each other again at Cockersands?