Thursday, 22 May 2014

22 May 2014 Beachy Head Overcast cool SW 4 decreasing to 3

We met up with NT and sea-watched from 05.45-08.00. We also covered between us Birling Lane, Belle Tout wood, Shooters Bottom, Old Trapping Area and Hotel Garden.
Small sea-bird passage with the highlight being a close Roseate Tern with 5 Sandwich Terns, but the only new night migrant was a Spotted Flycatcher:

Red-throated Diver 1 E
Gannet 30 E
Little Egret 3 E
Shelduck 10 E
Common Scoter 27 E
Sanderling 31 E
Kittiwake 70 E
Sandwich Tern 55 E
Roseate Tern 1 E with 5 Sandwich Terns @ 07.12
Commic Tern 10 E
Auk Sp 13 E
Guillemot 1 E
Swallow 22
Garden Warbler 1
Spotted Flycatcher 1

Short Account of today's Roseate Tern.

Sea-watching from Birling with a small passage of Sandwich Terns. Picked out a party of six terns moving E at a distance of 100-200 metres. As I was watching them with my 30x telescope, the first 5 were all Sandwich but the back one was smaller and far more elegant, slimmer wings and very long tail streamers. I immediately got DRC and NT onto this last bird which had now caught the Sandwich Terns up, and I was able to identify it as a Roseate Tern. We all followed this tern as it flew past us and it was extremely white all over and we were unable to see any contrast at all in the whiteness, lacking the greyness of Common/Arctic Terns, with a smart black cap. Compared with the Sandwich Terns, it appeared about 2/3rds the size but much slimmer with very long tail streamers, which gave it a long tailed appearance. From the distance we were looking, the bill looked all black, the plumage looked as white as the Sandwich Terns and we could not see any pink flush to the underparts. The flight was quite fast keeping up with the Sandwich Terns although perhaps more buoyant at times.
This is now our 18th record of 25 birds since 1960.