Monday, 31 August 2009

American Black Tern

The Bank Holiday started off for me on Friday when I had to take the car in for a service. The weather was very windy-strong westerlies and showery. I wandered around Letchworth, including Norton Common but did not see much of note thanks to the weather.
Saturday turned out to be a bit warmer and brighter, and the morning at Amwell with the regular crowd was quite enjoyable. We did not see a great deal-several Green and Common Sandpipers and up to six Hobby. I was hoping for something a bit rarer as Bill Last and Barry Reed were in Ireland at the Bridges of Ross sea watching so something to grip them off would have been nice. We did however spend a lot of time discussing the American Black tern that had turned up at Farmoor reservoir near Oxford, undoubtedly brought over by the winds. While not a species according to most authorities it is very rare in the UK and worth seeing.
The weather on Sunday was pretty dire, strong winds at times, very overcast and showers. Not the best of conditions on the central causeway at Farmoor. The marsh terns were a long way off but easily picked up and were seen flying and perched. The most obvious was the (rare) juvenile White Winged Black Tern being very pale. Almost as distinctive, the (very rare) American Black Tern could be picked up because it was a very dark bird and the dusky flanks showed well in flight. The (common) juvenile Black Tern by comparison was best described as the one in between.
We were able to get a bit closer where I was able to get a few decent images with the 500mm lens and a 2x converter. These images are probably the first to show all three terns in flight together.
On the way back to the car I was able to get very good images of a very confiding Dunlin and distant shots of one of many Yellow Wagtails around the buildings.
The erst of the day was a bit of a let down. We were heading to Tring for an Osprey which flew off before we got there so headed home via the Pegsdon Hills. A stroll around Telegraph and Deacon Hill failed to produce any migrants, apart from a few Meadow and Tree Pipits. No doubt the strong winds were to blame.

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