August 24th   Leave a comment

I was sea watching this morning from my house before leaving for work when a roseate tern passed by. My first definite for Crail. They are not too hard to identify at this time of year with a good view, looking like a sandwich tern in structure but with a common tern shaped head i.e. not shaped like pterodactyl – honestly have a look at sandwich terns and that’s what the head looks like), and a very obvious dark black leading edge to the wing. I had been watching common, arctic and sandwich terns pass when the roseate came by, nicely contrasting. Roseate terns used to breed in the Forth under the road bridge but they have got rarer and rarer in recent years. They are a fairly rare bird over the whole of the UK now. It’s hard to tell why they have become scarcer here. About 25 years ago the RSPB discovered that many of the UK breeding roseate terns wintered off the coast of Ghana where they often fell prey to small boys. They helped to launch an education and awareness program and solved that problem (and kicked off wildlife clubs all over Ghana as well which are still going strong). Now it’s not so simple – peregrine, gull and mink predation are all implicated. The irony is that roseate terns are spectacularly common in places like the Indian Ocean and our population, in a global sense, is insignificant. But of course it’s that sense of place that matters, the sense of your own experience. I would fight hard to see roseate terns more commonly from Crail regardless of whether they are common elsewhere. In conservation though, you have to be realistic and so perhaps I wouldn’t fight as hard for roseates here as I might for something that has a global population that really depends on the environment around Crail. Puffins on the May Island for example, or especially, the gannets on Bass Rock. There were plenty of gannets this morning and two of them were the first fledged juveniles of the year. Fairly early birds. I hope very many more will be coming past in the next few weeks.

An early juvenile gannet – the first fledglings from bass rock passed by Crail this morning

Posted August 24, 2012 by wildcrail in Sightings

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