On the 7th June a colour ringed Elegant Tern was reported at Hayling Island in Hampshire, it flew off around 11.30am. Only to be re-found early evening on the 9th at Sandy Point. On the 10th it relocated to the harbour at Church Norton. This individual is reportedly the same bird that regularly spends each summer at Banc d'Arguin, Gironde in France, It's been DNA tested in France and proven to be a pure Elegant Tern.
Brian had planned to make the trip Saturday afternoon but severe back pain ended that idea, So it was a nervous wait hoping it would stick around until Sunday and that Brian's back pain would ease enough to make the journey possible.
With the bird still being reported among the tern colony at 9.20 Saturday evening, we set off at 5am hoping for news on route. Shortly after 6am news breaks that the bird was still present. Taking a chance we drive down to the church and find a parking space right next to the footpath. Shortly after 7am we're Heading down the footpath to join around thirty other birders already on site. The bird is not showing but we're told it's among the tern colony in the long grass. Following the directions of other birders (pink house, find the basketball net on the wall, come down directly in front of that to the tern island and that's where the bird went down)
With the scope trained on that area, soon the shout goes up that the bird is in the air. It proves surprisingly easy to pick out among the other terns and gulls. It shows well in the scope flying around the island and along the electric fence line for some 10-15 minutes and then drops back down on the island in exactly the same place as before. This would be the pattern for the next hour until it suddenly flew out to sea and would not return to the harbour until mid-morning.
Large numbers of Med Gulls were present on the banks in front of the fenced area and a flock of 25-30 Little Terns were seen and several of these dropped in to fish in the harbour. Among the many Black-headed Gulls I managed to pick out a single Little Gull feeding among the muddy margins for another year tick. A more unusual sight was a pair of Peregrine sitting among the short grass a short distance from the tern colony close to a group of Cormorants. By the time we left the thirty or so birders present on arrival had grown in size to nearer 300!
|Some of the assembled birders.|