Wednesday 15 June 2016

Roseate Terns

The Roseate Tern has been on my wanted list for some time so I planned to take a cruise around RSPB Coquet Island, dependent of course on a successful outcome on the Farnes. The island is an RSPB reserve about one mile off Amble, Northumberland. It is home to a colony of nesting Roseate Terns and Coquet now holds 90 per cent of the UK's population.

As far as I know the only way to get close is by booking a trip on Dave Gray's Puffin Cruises out of Amble. Now most people who know me understand that I am most parsimonious when it comes to handing out endorsements and recommendations. However,  I have to say that the one hour cruise with Captain Dave and Chief Officer Dicky has to be one of the best £8 of birding investments I have made.

Oddly enough on this cruise you don't pay until you are on the way back. Rumour in the local hostelries says that if you don't see a Rosy then you don't have to pay. The same rumour mongers tell you that Dave has never had to give a refund - because he has never failed to find one. Well, I am a completely satisfied customer.

The day dawned a bit damp but I stuck to the plan and not only booked on the 1100 boat but the 1200 as well. I had nothing else planned for the day and as it happened the weather improved dramatically during the second trip. Nothing better than insurance.

I didn't have a clear strategy so when we approached the nesting colony I just fired off as many record shots as I could then searched with the bins. Well I managed to pick one up fairly quickly and subsequent analysis of the photos showed that there was one in the first frame. The nest boxes are clearly numbered and as other birders on the boat spotted the birds they called out the number. In the end  "55", "41" and "69" started to sound like some odd form of "birding bingo"

Nice to have the company of John whose world list is in excess of 4500 but he had never seen a Rosy, great to share the moment.

The boat gets you close enough
"Bird bingo" on a what looks like a building site

Six - possibly seven.

Two rings a good ID clue

Some birds still slightly pink

I spotted a mixed flock of birds bathing...

...huge embarrassment as I miscalled a Sarnie.

On the second run we managed to pick up a bird on the rocks in front of the colony, still a fair way off but I was happy to have it as a record shot. 

Lots of other birds are present, Puffins of course, Arctic, Sandwich and Common Terns along with Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Black-headed Gulls. Plus, of course, loads of seals coming close to the boat.

Well if you are in the area and have a hankering to see a Roseate Tern then give it a go - you won't regret it

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