Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Caspian Tern Story

So far I have dipped Caspian Tern 'many a' time.

It started with the 1999 Breydon bird missed that, next was the 2001 Cantley/Strumpshaw bird when I was on holiday in Wales. Then dipped the 2002 Hickling/Filby/Rockland bird. Then dipped another Breydon bird in the same year. I also dipped three times in trying for the 2005 Breydon bird and missed it again two days later at Rush Hills. An exact carbon copy happened in 2006 when I dipped again at Breydon and a few days after at Rush Hills. The 2009 bird at Welney was also missed when I could not go anywhere that weekend.
So after late news of another Caspian Tern roosting at Thornham Habour last night it got me up early today and I arrived at Thornham at 4.30am to try and stop the dipping madness.
I parked up at Thornham Harbour car park in torrential rain, so I postioned the car so that I could stand under the boot lid and scan the harbour.
I watched as Gannets flew past west struggling against the wind I did count them but gave up after 100 had been through. Penny Clarke arrived at 5.15am and she went and scanned the channels and creeks.
I continued scaning a few Sandwich Terns and Little Terns were floating around, and 2 Little Gulls flew through. Connar Rand then arrived and him and Penny took to the bank for a better view. I stayed in the 'comfort' of under the boot lid and kept scanning.
A Guillemot flew low over the harbour and a Peregrine perched on the nesting Terns fence, a few Fulmars flew through and two Eider sat on the beach. Waders were plentyful with Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Knot, Greenshank, Redshank, Curlew, Whimbrel and Oystercatcher.
I waited until 6.45 when I thought maybe this Tern changed its roost during the night and decided Titchwell would be best leaving rainy Thornham behind.

I got to Titchwell and walked out in the 'still' pouring rain I scanned the all the pools on the way to the beach. At the beach I came up with the bright idea of walking out to Thornham Point to have a back scan of the Harbour.
I got to the point at around 7.30 and scanned but still saw nothting, a Manx Shearwater flew past on the sea when I looked at the pager and found out that the Caspian Tern had been seen from Thornham at 7.15-7.18 when it then flew west. I could not believe it, I dipped a Caspian Tern again, I stood there pondering what to do, I thought from here I keep seeing Terns going in and out of the Harbour so thought I would wait it out and hope it came back.
It was about 8.15 when I noticed that the pager said the Caspian Tern was roosting at Holme at 8.00 so with this I walked back down the beach and through the reserve at Titchwell and drove to Holme. I got to Holme to find people milling about which it never a good sign and was told it had flown back east, I dipped again.
With this I went to Thornham and scanned the habour, no sign of it there so I went on to Titchwell.
I set off again and just as I was leaving the trees I saw a large bird over the left hand pools, I put my bins up and couldn't believe my eyes it was the Caspian Tern and my own little Self-discovery. I then notice the RSPB warden and another chap up the track and before I could shout they were pointing it out to me also.

It flew around the pools for 20mins or so before flying off over the reserve only to return again. It was fishing (although I didn't see it catch anything) and showing well for the hour or so that I was there.

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