Monday 3 July 2017

New life on Brownsea

A few weeks ago a family trip to the tern colony on Brownsea Island was rudely interrupted by news of an Elegant Tern at a tern colony in Pagham Harbour. One of the reasons I had agreed to visit Brownsea was a secret hope that the Tern might appear there and that I would be the one to find it. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the Elegant Tern was indeed discovered at the Brownsea tern colony - not by me as I was in London on business, but by my former colleague Hamish Murray, doing his rounds for his new employer, the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
Sandwich Tern: a demanding youngster
This one was stood a couple of yards from where the Elegant Tern roosted on webcam
Sandwich Tern chick - this was taken 10 days ago so this bird will probably now be unrecognisable
Black-headed Gull chicks were on the islands and swimming on the lagoon
I don't think I have ever seen so many Common Tern chicks on Brownsea - there are 30 in this photo alone
Despite roosting overnight and being widely watched on the Brownsea webcam the Elegant Tern was only present in the colony for the first hours of daylight the following morning. I made a couple of visits to the island over the following days - it was a very long shot that the Tern might drop in again (and indeed it didn't) but I knew there would be plenty to see and photograph in any case.
The breeding terns can be very feisty - here a Common Tern takes a Little Egret to task

It's not all happy endings though - a Mediterranean Gull making off with a Black-headed Gull chick
That Med Gull again - butter wouldn't melt!
Common Tern bringing food back to the nest
Common Tern
Within the tern colony, both breeding species - Sandwich and Common - seemed to be doing incredibly well. The Sandwich Terns appear to have benefitted from fencing erected around their favoured islands preventing trampling by Sika Deer. The Common Terns prefer unfenced islands and they are also doing well - possibly because the pair of Yellow-legged Gulls which have bred in several recent years, and which plunder the tern chicks for their own offspring, don't appear to have nested this year.
The Terns were bringing a variety of food back to the nest - sandeels...
...and other small fish
Sandwich Tern

Refreshing to see so much new life doing well on the Island - and a great place for photographing the terns going about their business.
Sandwich Tern calling on approach to the colony

Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern with a handsome catch

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