[Tweeters] It's a hard life being a Tern

David Hutchinson flora.fauna at live.com
Sun Jul 14 14:01:22 PDT 2013

Recently I came back from visiting my sister on the (other) Kent Coast. Next day, I drove around the Magnolia peninsula looking for evidence of Caspian Terns breeding but saw nary a one. Perhaps they have been successful in Everett. Later Don Norman, who has been working with the results of BP oil-spill on the Gulf, came over to talk about banding Least Terns.
Southern Kent is regularly visited in migration by five species of Tern: Common,Arctic,Sandwich, Roseate and Little. On my visits to the local nature reserves - Stodmarsh and the Oare estuary, I was lucky enough to see lots of Common and a couple of Arctic and Sandwich. Little terns which used to breed at Stodmarsh no longer do so, while Arctic, which used to breed on the Norfolk Coast, now breed further north only.
The place to see breeding Terns turned out to be Rye Harbour and we were able, through their system of blinds, to get close to many pairs of Common with chick. Apparently Sandwich and Little also breed in the colony, while Roseate and Arctic merely show up on passage.
It sounds so cut and dried, but this and other reserves are closely managed and really just tiny spots left on the map. Between land-loss, pollution, global warming, Red Fox, Short-eared Owl and the lowly Hedgehog it is a wonder Terns survive. The biggest predator by far in the U.K. is the Mink. Not as an advertisement in any way, but I have been reading an excellent new book about Terns in Britain and Ireland by Nesbit & Cabot, one who mostly works in the US and the other in Ireland.

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