Like buses, patch yearticks come in twos. Having not seen a new species since May, my cup now truly overfloweth. Common Tern has been frustrating me for a while now. Never particularly straightforward to see, they breed over on the Walthamstow Reservoirs in small numbers, as well as on the Thames at Barking. I don't know where our ones come from, but they never linger for more than about five minutes. You wonder really if it is worth their effort to fly all the way here, catch the tiniest fish ever, and then fly all the way back again.
For the last few days a bird has been seen feeding on the Heronry Pond at 9:10am sharp. At this time I am always on the way back from the school run. I've attempted to connect, but by the time I am at Heronry, the bird has inevitably flown north. Yesterday I decided on a new approach - rather than drive south to Heronry as the bird flies north to the Basin, I just waited at the Basin. Genius, no? And it only went and worked didn't it!! I parked up at the Basin and hopped out of the car. I sauntered confidently over the road and started looking over the fence (it's part of the Golf Course you see, and you must never ever trespass on the Golf Course, that would be totally wrong...). And there it was! One Common Tern, probably the same one that is being seen daily. It hovered, dived, flew round the islands, and then lifted off....south (the little tyke!)....and was joined by a second bird that I hadn't spotted. Cool! Patch yeartick #101. My phone then bonged. It was Tim, stood by the Shoulder of Mutton Pond, and he was looking at one of the Terns, now feeding there. So despite my clever use of tactics and reasoning, I probably could have seen a Common Tern from just about anywhere yesterday, but I am not complaining. Common Tern is definitely getting scarcer. I remember it being regular, and even getting it as a garden tick a few years ago. Then they dried up, and I didn't see one for over two years until 2010. I could list all my sightings if you like...
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