Friday, 3 August 2018

Another Rare Tern at inch Marlow

Willet - Tringa semipalmata

I am finding myself birding at Inch Marlow’s beach more than normal.  These are not planned trips I just happened to be in the area, but it is proving to be very rewarding.  On July 25th, I saw a Gull-billed Tern, a rare bird for the island, then on July 30th three Willets and now today, August 2nd another rare tern, and this time it is a Least Tern Sternula antillarum
Least Tern Sternula antillarum

Least Terns are among the smallest terns in the world, about 8.5” to 9” and has a wingspan of around 20”.  It breeds in North America, the Caribbean and parts of South America while it winters in the Caribbean and Central and South America.  These birds are separated from most terns by its yellow legs and bill.

Inch Marlow is shaping up to be one of the exciting spots to bird this migration. 

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Rare Tern at Inch Marlow

Sargassum Seaweed @ Inch Marlow and Long Beach

Inch Marlow and Long Beach are not attracting visitors as they use too.  These locations which are synonymous with beach life - surfing, kite surfing, fishing and swimming for the brave at heart – are now only known for Sargassum seaweed and the stench that comes along with it.  It is this very reason that attracts birders to these beaches.  The fresh sargassum traps small crustaceans and fish and as it decays it attracts small flies and maggots, a buffet for birds of all kinds.  
Laughing Gull
I visited Inch Marlow and Long Beach on the afternoon of July 25th to check for early migrants, mainly of the shorebird variety.  I arrived just before 4:30pm, not many shorebirds were around,  just three Spotted Sandpipers and a Semipalmated Sandpiper, this was because it is still very early in the migration process but that would change in a few weeks. 

A few seabirds were feeding close to shore, three Roseate Terns easily identified with their black crown and a Laughing Gull, but another bird caught my attention.  This bird appeared all white, it flies and fishes like a tern but was larger than the Roseates and closer to the size of the Gull.  It had a dark patch on the eye and a thick black bill.  These main characteristics told me the bird was a Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica), a rare bird for the island.
Gull-billed Tern

Gull-billed Terns are medium sized Terns, about 13” in length with a wing span of 34”.  It has a thick black bill and legs. It also sports a black crown in breeding plumage and a pale crown otherwise.  The bird at Inch Marlow appeared to be a juvenile showing a faint creamish wash on its upper back or mantle.

I am not sure how long this bird will remain in this area but I hope to visit the area again early next week.

More Images 
Gull-billed Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Laughing Gull
Roseate Tern
Semipalmated Sandpiper feeding the Sargassum