September 20th   Leave a comment

Arctic and common terns have now all but disappeared but there are still a lot of sandwich terns passing by Crail and fishing out at Fife Ness. They are still mainly in pairs – an adult followed by a noisy begging juvenile. The young probably follow (or chase) their parents all the way down to Senegal, learning the route as they go. Terns seem to go in for social learning: I watched a common tern last week trying to teach its young to fish by bringing in a small sand eel and dropping it in the water repeatedly close to a juvenile perched on a nearby rock. The juvenile in classic teenager style ignored its parent and the adult eventually ate the fish itself. I have also been noticing that the carrion crows and even jackdaws on the rocky shore have been chasing the terns, trying to steal fish from them. I wonder if this is because the adult terns unintentionally taught the crows that there was easy fish to be had instead of their lazy young.

Sandwich Tern

Posted September 20, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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