Thursday, 16 September 2010

Black Terns: aerobatics at Leighton Moss, Lancashire

September 15, 2010:
At least two, possibly three, Black Terns were flying over the large fresh water pools here today. They restlessly patrolled close above the water, mainly searching for insects which they took in the air or neatly picked off the surface. These are small terns and unlike others of the family they don't dive for fish. They had a very agile fast flight and frequently turned sharply to pick up airborne prey. Although watched for two hours, they were never seen to land.

They seemed to be especially attracted to the margins of the reed beds, possibly because the weather was cool and most insects were there.

These are autumn passage migrants, soon to fly south to Africa where they over-winter. Not regular nesters in Britain, they favour fresh water marshes, often in association with Black-headed Gulls to provide some protection.

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