Black Yank Back

When we went on the East Coast Seabird Tour last year one of the intriguing birds we saw was a Black Tern in Northumberland. That in itself is not so unusual. What was a little different was Black Terns are Marsh Terns and wouldn’t normally be found in close association with Common, Little and Arctic Terns in a beach colony.

I’ve never seen an American Black Tern in summer plumage. I’ve only seen winter plumage birds – that wear distinctive ‘headphones’ like the one I photographed in 2011 at Covenham in Lincolnshire. https://wildcatchphotography.zenfolio.com/p912769488/h264a45db#h264a45db

It transpires that the white leading edge to the wing and sparkling white underwing, shown by the Northumberland bird are two features not shared by the European Black Tern in Summer Plumage. The bird was in fact an ‘American Black Tern’ of the race surinamensis.

Amazingly, what was undoubtedly the same bird returned this year and we called to see it on the East Coast Seabird Tour last week. When we first arrived at the colony it was nowhere to be seen. However, it wasn’t long before we saw, and heard, it fly in from the sea and come over the beach to where we were standing with the wardens. Being quite vocal it wasn’t difficult to keep track of and it showed amazingly well, enabling me to fire off a few frames as it flew overhead.


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Jul 2022


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