Thursday, 14 July 2016

Preston Docks Common Tern Colony

I had my lunch at the Preston Dock common tern colony today, my first visit of the year. The chicks are quite large now and many can fly, so the colony was very busy and noisy. Adults returning with fish to feed the chicks were usually harassed by other adults who presumably were intent on stealing the fish, and in the confusion a few occasionally landed on the wall next to me, some as close as 1m away.

I watched as a juvenile took to the air, perhaps for the first time, and tottered it's way over the colony and across the water, almost like a human toddler taking its first uncertain steps, and just like with humans, one of the chicks nervous parents followed it around and guided it back to it's nest box. Really nice to watch.

Most of the adults returned with sand eels, but sand eels are sea fish which means that the adults must be travelling at least 10 miles down river to the sea in order to catch the fish, and then return another 10 miles back.

Most adult common terns at Preston Dock seemed to be returning to the colony with sand eels, but one returned with what looked like a goldfish! Perhaps the adult was tired of a 20 mile round trip for another sand eel and took the fast food option from somebodys pond!

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