Sunday 30 April 2017

Black Tern

Just when you thought my photos couldn't get worse - an audacious attempt to photograph a Black Tern - that 'smudge' below left of the green buoy.
Sea-watch from the raised beach huts (Maer Rocks) - 0545 - 0745 - c20+ Sandwich Tern, 1 Eider (imm male west @ 0604), 9 Great Northern Diver, 2+ Common Gull, 7+ Common Tern, 1 Black Tern (east @ 0630 with 12 'commic' Tern), 2+ Arctic Tern, 9 Common Scoter, 2+ Little Tern, 8 Whimbrel, 1 Great Skua, 2 Black-headed Gull, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Fulmar, 1+ Guillemot and a handful of Kittiwakes and Gannets.
After a cuppa and some breakfast at home, and with the family all still asleep or stirring, I nipped back down for half an hour and recorded a further 14 Common Scoter, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 3 Dark-bellied Brent Goose and 3 Little Tern.
Finally, a quick check of Sandy Bay at around 3pm, following a pub lunch with the family in Topsham,  produced 13 Common Scoter, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 6 Little Tern feeding together. A count of the Straight Point Kittiwake colony revealed 86 birds and Mudbank late evening produced 77 Turnstone, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank and 6 Great Crested Grebe.
Most of the small terns were evidently not visible to birders watching from the sea wall at Dawlish Warren. It's very unusual for this to happen but understandable given the fact that I had them coming along the beach from the direction of the river mouth, close past Maer Rocks and eastwards towards Orcombe Point. For a while there were 3 Common Tern, 1 Arctic Tern and 2 Little Tern lingering very close to the beach, affording views that I very rarely get in Exmouth. Pity the Black Tern didn't linger too.
Yesterday a brief early morning spell on Orcombe produced 2 Whimbrel, 4 Dunlin, 1 wader sp, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Common Tern, 90+ Pale-bellied Brent Goose (in 3 flocks), 3 Wheatear and 2 Willow Warbler. A Sedge Warbler singing alongside the coast path was my first this year.
I checked Mudbank on the way home and wasn't too surprised to see the bulk of the Pale-bellied Brent Goose flock (80+ birds) settled. Also 1 Common Tern, 10+ Sandwich Tern, 42 Whimbrel, 23 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Common Sandpiper.
The light was great yesterday with Berry Head seemingly within touching distance.


  1. Love the Black "smudge" tern! Sounds like a pretty good day on patch though Matt. Good work!

  2. Thanks Chris - I have to resort to posting terrible pictures, especially with species like Black Tern that are barely annual in Exmouth and invariably half a mile away. All the best and good luck on the Otter. Matt

  3. Now that's a record shot - love it Matt. I reckon you could just about id it as a Black Tern from the photo but what about the other tern to its right!? Common or Arctic?

  4. Thanks Mike - I have no shame! Think the bulk of the 12 'commics' were Commons but am always wary of id'ing the 2 species without good views. I've got em wrong on many occasions. A bit disappointed that you can't id the right hand bird though.

  5. I thought it might have been an illusion tern? Closely related to a much rarer north Pacific species..

  6. Ha! Very good! Would love to reply with another Tern pun but I'm never gonna beat that one! Genius. Cheers Mike.