Just a few words to let you know what an unmitigated success the tern raft has been at the Oyster Beds nature reserve, last year saw no common tern fledgelings at all, so with a current figure of 24 and counting I think we can safely say it worked! It's been an interesting journey, not least in seeing such enthusiasm from both local people and visitors who enjoy a stroll along the footpaths around the lagoon. As a traditional stronghold of the black-headed gull with a smattering of Mediterranean gulls, previously there's been very little appetite to stop and look. It's amazing, say gull to most people and you see their faces glaze over - it's such a travesty, they are incredible birds and I think they're due a re-brand to stand any chance of eliciting the attention they deserve. A couple passed by last week and asked me if I could do something about the noise, it was spoiling their walk! Granted black-headed gulls have probably one of the most odious calls and several hundred squawking away is an acquired taste (Eric Morecambe playing Grieg's piano concerto springs to mind), but is it not a wildlife spectacle and still to be marveled at, never mind, you know what they say "you can't please all of the people........" They should have been with me on Lundy Island last week with the lovely people from Marine Life. Hearing around 3000 Manx Shearwater arriving back to their burrows en masse at 11.30pm prompt was very spooky indeed, now that's a call to conjure up nightmares and grate on the ears, but what an amazing experience it was. Anyway, back to the terns, yes they are delightful and have stirred up a lot of interest at the oyster beds with many people taking time to sit and enjoy watching the chicks being fed and brooded by their diligent parents. Here's some footage for you of the exceptionally cute variety - just look what happens when you give a small chick an enormous fish to swallow - it fall's down exhausted!!
filmed by Wez Smith
And of course if you're a common tern and you have all those thousands of miles ahead of you, you'd better get those wings flapping as soon as possible - how divine!
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