August: well, it’s finally stopped raining, and for the past few days we’ve had just the weather I look forward to on theNorth East coast in July. Light offshore winds have calmed the inshore waters, such that on some days there is not even the hint of a breaking wave.

In the sunshine it’s a great place to be, because at this time of year the terns are bringing their young off the breeding islands and are feeding just offshore, and with 2012 proving to be a bumper year for little fish around here – from sand eels to mackerel – these waters are a mass of diving kittiwakes, terns, auks and gannets, often pursued by marauding skuas.

Today I was down at a favourite spot from 4.30am at low tide before a lovely sunrise, anxious to get some new tern calls. I wasn’t disappointed: as the sun rose over the patch of sea in front of me I could hear the rapid fire splash, splash, splash of the terns, mostly a mixture of Common and Sandwich.

      Terns diving

But soon I was rewarded with more than I had hoped for. A few of the very rare breeding Roseate Terns come down here to feed, and one can often grab the occasional call, but today shortly after 6am a party of about 10 Roseates split off from the main flocks, and proceeded to give their characteristic harsh disyllabic calls right in front of my mics. 

      Roseate tern

A magical moment, and well worth getting out of bed for!


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