Sunday 2 May 2010

What a tern out!

[Sorry about the title – obviously the range of diabolical puns on other nameless birding blogs is rubbing off!]

Had a great day’s birding in some terrible weather today – from the moment I stepped out of the car at Aveley Bay and found 11 Bar-tailed Godwits (most in brick red summer plumage), I had a good feeling despite the pouring rain. On arrival at the visitor centre, I picked up a couple of cracking Black Terns (thanks for the heads-up, Dominic), followed by three Arctics heading upriver (apologies Dom!).

blacktern2Tern passage then dwindled to nothing, but news of an American Golden Plover at Barnes had us heading for the car. As it turned out, my enforced detour past home to play chauffeur for Suzanne was ideal, since I hadn’t got too far when plover departure news came through… leaving Little Tern on KGV the obvious target. Two minutes away, and a phone call from Paul mentioned a Pom Skua, also on KGV – bring it on!

By the time I caught up with it, the Pom had been reidentified an Arctic – still a great bird for London, nonetheless – before it headed off high up the Lee Valley. With the rain still bucketing down, the reservoir was absolutely carpeted in birds: many Common Terns were accompanied by 15-20 Arctics, single Black and Little Terns, and huge numbers of hirundines and swifts. The Little Tern was a long overdue London tick for me – I always seem to miss them on the odd few days when there’s a ‘Little’ passage. While grilling terns (not literally) with Dom, Jono and Ruth, news of a singing Wood Warbler came through from Fishers Green – just up the road, and yet another new bird for me in London. We found it fairly quickly after arrival, thanks to a couple of quivering bursts of song, and I even managed a couple of record shots:

woodwarblerBy now, lunch was calling, and Rainham’s sheltered riverwatching balcony seemed the obvious place to find it. A sausage sandwich showed well, though briefly, as a few groups of waders flew past. More Barwits, a few Knot, and some Grey Plover – all decent birds away from the coast – were noted, before we set off to see some fantastically showy Black Terns on Aveley Pools. The light was pretty abysmal, so these aren’t great shots, but I love just seeing these graceful and handsome birds – great stuff!

blacktern1 blacktern3 blacktern4

No comments: