Saturday, 16 October 2010

White-winged Black Tern, Inner Marsh Farm, Cheshire

October 16, 2010:
A Whiskered Tern reported here a few weeks ago has now been followed by a White-winged Black Tern. Together with the more frequently occurring Black Tern, all three are marsh terns and quite closely related and of similar general appearance. They nest in in marshes and by lakes in central continental Europe and spend the winter in Africa. Could this be the same as that earlier identified as a Whiskered? This bird is a juvenile and lacks the dark breast patch and the light tips to the wing feathers of the Black Tern. White-winged are much rarer visitors to Britain than Black Terns with annual records often only just reaching into double figures.

Today it spent much of the time high in air, flying amongst Black-headed Gulls and taking insects from above a distant pool and band of trees. It could easily be separated from the gulls by its very accomplished aerobatics and smaller size. However, it never descended low to skim insects from the water surface in the manner of the Black Tern.

It only settled for short periods on the exposed mud to preen amongst Lapwings, Golden Plovers and gulls. Each time this was always at a distance.

[Alighting amongst Lapwings and gulls]

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