Wednesday, 27 April 2011

ARCTIC TERNS on the move


The wind veered more Northeasterly this morning and as a result, ARCTIC TERN passage began across the Midlands and East Anglia. It was very cold this morning but warmed up slightly this afternoon when the skies cleared and the sun shone brightly.


Two 'new' singing COMMON WHITETHROATS found this afternoon, both within 100 yards of each other close to the sharp bend at the north end of Flaunden Bottom (at TL 007 007). It has been an exceptional year for this species so far and looks set to be a record year in my Recording Area.

(evening visit, with Geoff Young & brother, Ian Williams, Chaz Jackson, Jenny Wallington, Sue Rowe, Dave Bilcock, Paul Eels, Kevin Holt and others)

With a switch to moderate Northeasterlies, ARCTIC TERNS were the order of the day with 9 present this evening (DB et al); also a pair of breeding-plumaged BLACK TERNS and 52 Common Terns. In fact it was a bit of an 'Arctic Tern Workshop' as I tried my best to explain the subtle differences between the two species. Although many of the Arctic Terns were far from fully developed into breeding plumage, with split or uneven tail streamers, separation was best explained by the grey underparts (particularly the breast), very short and darker red legs when perched on the algae bunds), strong contrast between the white trailing edge and darker grey upperwings in flight, much narrower wings and more agile and graceful flight pattern and mostly all red bill (although some Arctics did have black towards the tip). Intriguingly, the two BLACK TERNS were a pair and displaying at times.

Apart from the terns, very little of note: 40+ COMMON SWIFTS high in the sky and a male YELLOW WAGTAIL that flew NE across the reservoir

**Additional Note: I have uploaded several shots of the recent Ashridge Forest WOOD WARBLER on my Tringbirding blog taken by Ian Williams - they are excellent

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