Sunday, 17 April 2016
Mid April, drizzle, wind to the North West in the Ely10 this is time to go looking for the world's longest distance migrant bird - the Arctic Tern. Last weekend I enjoyed a positively balmy early morning on the coast finding a singing Firecrest and fly catching Redstart to boot.
Today the thermostat was down 15 degrees and it was not too far off freezing. When I looked in at Roswell early doors there was a Common Tern and quite a gang of hirundines, I decided to press on to the middle of the Ouse Washes. Some years ago in the same conditions I had watched an ephemeral, shimmering pack of 25 Arctic Terns storm up the Washes and I had a fancy I could see something similar today if I was lucky. I did enjoy my time seeing Yellow Wagtails dotted against the black soils like custard spots on chocolate pudding - mmmmm. Thousand strong Godwit flocks are not unusual through the spring and today a flock of that size or more were carpeting a flood corner. Along the bank a late Stonechat perched up and a Redpoll jibbered overhead.
I even enjoyed watching a French Partridge perched up on some bales but I didn't, between my shivers, see any Terns.
Or Ring Ouzels, which seem to have slipped through undetected, or not at all. Looking afresh at Roswell on my way return leg a fresh cohort of Terns had arrived. A check through with the bins and yes there was a single Arctic, gorgeous and maybe a thousand miles from anywhere called home. Heavily, heavily cropped the finer points of identification may be lost in some of these pics but the feel of an Arctic Tern is present in each.
For those who don't mind an spot of anthropomorphising in their children's books I would recommend a childhood favourite of mine. Starts of with an amazing first person/bird description of flying to limits of height and looking down on North West Scotland returning to a viscerally pictured experience within the bustling colony. What follows is a travelogue, from birth, of an Arctic Terns first migration loop. Heady stuff, I'm going to read it again once I've finished my book on trans global shamanic knowledge of DNA communicated from hallucinogenic experiences directly from the molecules themselves - really.