May 15th   Leave a comment

There was a common tern in Roome Bay today. Every year we seem to get a pair fishing and displaying around the rocks at this time of year. They then disappear after a week or two. Perhaps off to the Isle of May to breed, but certainly not here. Like most seabirds they don’t do well on the mainland where there are foxes and other mammalian predators. While they are with us the male will catch a fish repeatedly and then present it to the female. She gets an idea of how good a provider he will be when the chicks hatch and also gets into condition to produce the eggs. Common terns weigh about 133 grams and lay three eggs over the course of three days, each weighing about 21 grams. This means of course that they lay nearly half their own body weight in a very short time, so this “nuptial” feeding by the male is very important for the female. Perhaps that’s why they do it in Roome Bay, even when they don’t breed here. Lots of fish, but little competition from other terns, and only a short flight back to the Isle of May (and common terns have come here from West or Southern Africa so it is definitely only a short flight to them). It’s well worth a quick trip down to Roome Bay to see. Look out for a beautiful white gull like bird, but much more elegant with a bright red bill and a neat black cap. Terns hover a lot and plunge dive unlike gulls.

Common tern

Posted May 15, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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