‘TERN, TERN, TERN’: THE UN-NOTORIOUS BYRD COUSINS
There are twelve (12!) species of tern – ‘swallows of the sea’ – that to a greater or lesser extent may be found on Abaco. Whether they will actually be visible at any given time is less certain, though. For a start, the only resident species is the lovely Royal Tern, available at many locations on Abaco and the cays throughout the year.
ROYAL TERNS Thalasseus maximus PR1
In the slightly less commonly-found category are the summer migrant terns that, by definition, are only in residence for around half the year. Four of these are fairly common in certain areas, and actually breed on Abaco; these include arguably the prettiest of all, the bridled tern. The other two tern species (gull-billed and sandwich) are more rare and as far as I can make out do not breed locally; or perhaps only rarely.
LEAST TERN Sternula antillarum SR B 1
BRIDLED TERN Onychoprion anaethetus SR B 2
ROSEATE TERN Sterna Dougallii SR B 2
SOOTY TERN Onychoprion anaethetus SR B 2
GULL-BILLED TERN Gelochelidon nilotica SR 3
SANDWICH TERN Thalasseus sandvicensis SR 4
There is one rare winter resident migratory tern species. I had to check when the last one was recorded for Abaco. It was of course only in January this year, when ace birder-photographer Sally Chisholm saw one at Treasure Cay and managed to photograph it for posterity.
FORSTER’S TERN Sterna forsteri WR 4
The final four ‘Abaco’ terns are very much the occasional visitors. Three of them pass over the Bahamas on their longer migration, but may make a pit-stop around Abaco to take on fuel. Likelihood of sighting one? Slender but not impossible… The fourth, the Arctic Tern, is a very rare vagrant, a bird well away from its usual home or migration route as the result of storms or faulty satnav or sheer happenstance. Don’t travel to the Bahamas intent on seeing one.
CASPIAN TERN Hydroprogne caspia TR 4
As for the remaining three species, they are the transient black tern and common tern; and the vanishingly rare vagrant Arctic tern (the clue is in the name). No photos of any of these I’m afraid, so here’s a handy checklist instead.
ELECTIVE MUSICAL DIGRESSION
Written by Peter Seeger a few years earlier, Turn x 3 was released in 1965, the title track on the second album from the Byrds. At a rather febrile time in US history (Vietnam, draft riots, black civil rightists v cops and so on), this unusually palliative and thoughtful song with its religious connotations to some extent stood for peace and hope in a time of turmoil.
PS the somewhat laboured title of this post shoehorns in the name of another Byrds album, ‘The Notorious Byrd Brothers’
Photo credits: Keith Salvesen (1, 2, 3, 5, 18); Tony Hepburn (4); Alex Hughes (10, 11); Bruce Hallett (6, 7, 12); Woody Bracey (8, 13, 16); Duncan Wright (9); Dick Daniels (14); Sally Chisholm (15); Keith Kemp (17)
we have the Little Terns here beside Common, Sandwich and Arctic Terns. Dina and I are voluntary Little Tern Wardens as the Little Terns are an endangered species. They are prey of the kestrels and stoats. There are egg hunters and people getting too near to the fenced off nesting grounds.
We love watching the Terns fishing, especially how the dive into the sea.
All the best
The Fab Four of Cley
Sorry for delayed reply, life got in the way! I recall that you are wardens – what a great pleasure for you (and them). It’s so weird that wherever the shorebirds nest, humans will insist on their inalienable right to disturb them – a subtle form of predation. Be glad they don’t drive SUVs up and down the beach like in the breeding grounds in US (another inalienable right from time immemorial)… RH
no, the seabirds are very well protected here. You can only reach to their breading grounds walking. And those breeding areas are fenced off as well. In an hour we have to leave to start our shift as Little Tern Wardens. Today will be a lot of people around because it’s (too) hot, a little bit more then 30 C. But usually, we don’t see more than 2 people in our 3 hour-shifts.
The Fab Four of Cley
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Amazing level of protection – pity it can’t be like that everywhere!
As you know Cley next the Sea as the `Mecca of Birdwatching´ is very active protecting birds and seals. It’s the `playground´ of the National Trust, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, a site of special scientific interest and a nature reserve. So it’s very much looked after.