There are lots of people out there who have never seen a Roseate Tern. Others have to make special and often lengthy journeys to see them, we have them just up the road some times and there is a colony off nearby Pubnico but I never take them for granted. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Ted d’Eon and his team of volunteers, the North Brothers colony, which includes a lot of Common and a few Arctic Terns too, has been flourishing, so far. This year might see a downturn as numbers are reported to be lower than recent years or, the birds are just late arriving or, they have done what terns, and Roseate Terns in particular are famous for, they have moved.
On June-4th I went out with Ted, Ronnie and Aldric to do a count and band observation session. You land, the terns fly around screaming. You sit, the terns fly around screaming until they forget all about you, think attention span of a Trump supporter, then they just fly about screaming anyway – it passes the time. Gradually the sort of chaotic order that is a tern colony ensues and you get the opportunity to point a lens as a means of both collecting band numbers and taking the opportunity to get the sort of Roseate Tern photos you’ve always wanted.
Many of the Roseate Terns have colour bands, red with white lettering. Some have the metal bands, one on each leg, and you have to try to get the light just right to get the details, providing the angle is right and the tern facing the right way, easy. Then there is at least one Roseate Tern with a ring originating in Brazil. Details of these birds and all the ups and downs of the past years can be found at: http://teddeon.com/ternrep.html
Roseate Terns are a threatened species, and expanding club with species joining all of the time and not by choice. The threats to the terns are manifold, but some can be dealt with care and sensitivity; a good example being the trapping and killing of Roseate Terns off Ghana, in Africa. Once the issue was discovered, the trappers, who were mostly young boys doing it for fun and sometimes food, were rewarded for trapping and releasing and recording the bands the terns carried. Climate change, predation by Rats, Mink and Humans and death due to detritus in the oceans all gang up to make life as impossible as it can be, yet still they survive.
The morning was as good as it could be and the light appealing. The wonder of digital cameras caught a lot of images, nearly 2000 in my case, and slowly the images revealed how many birds had returned and who they were mated to. A lot of images follow, mostly of Roseate Terns but also of Arctic and Common Terns, the latter species a real pest in chasing settled birds all of the time.
And now a few Common Terns
Finally Arctic Tern.