Saturday, 10 February 2018

Terns of Foxton Beach

We have 2 tern residents of Foxton Beach. They are present all year round with brief absences for breeding. Other species are regular visitors. I have seen common, little, white-winged black, black-fronted and gull-billed species here.

The first is the medium sized white-fronted tern. It is elegant and beautiful to see in the air, on the ground and in the water. Usually in flocks, the terns are present on the estuary side of the area at the moment. I'm not sure if that is because the seaside of Foxton Beach is full of tourists and people fishing or another reason. It is a treat to watch the terns in spring as they court, bringing food for each other and parading past prospective mates. Into the summer they bring the youngsters to the beach who are not quite so elegant but equally interesting with a black and white patterned plumage. They are comical as they demand food with an incessant whine. I have even seen one stamp its feet (although I am prepared to concede I may be anthromorphosising here). 

White-fronted Tern
(sterna striata)

The other native tern is the Caspian tern. It is the largest tern species and when you see it next to the other varieties, you really appreciate that. Usually in small family groups, there are between 5-10 birds on the beach at any one time. It is quite an impressive sight to see these large birds diving for food.

Caspian Tern
(hydroprogne caspia)

Black-fonted Tern (juvenile)
(chlidonias albostriatus)

Common Tern
(sterna hirundo)

Little Tern
(sterna albifrons)

White-winged Black Tern (next to a Caspian Tern)
(chlidonias leucopterus)

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