Each summer I like to have at least one good session with some of the local Common Terns. I have always been attracted to the streamline elegance of these 'swallows of the sea', particularly during their twisting acrobatic flight. This year the mental alarm clock kept ringing out that it was time to pay them visit. However, due to other commitments the trip ended up being continually postponed until way past the optimal mid-summer period. For wildlife photography timing is key, particularly with birds, and so my expectations for the session ahead were not very high as I slipped out of the house before sunrise.
I arrived in the hide with numerous terns circling overhead but none were landing on the odd assortment of perches close by. If I had managed my trip a couple of months earlier they would have be queued up with plenty of flight opportunities. I would pay for my delay. While waiting for a tern to put in an appearance I had a look around to see what else was on offer.
The ducks were waking in the first rays of sun. A female mallard warming up the flight muscles.
A Tufted Duck glided slowly by while a male was stretching its wings.
Still the only terns were circling around the lake or landing on their floating nesting pontoons. Looking out the side of the hide a Lapwing was close-by and moving with characteristic stop and go walk of a plover. The rainbow hue of the shoulder feathers gently glowed in the early sun.
Still no terns. Further along the bank I waited as a hyperactive Common Sandpiper approached the hide. These birds never stop moving and this one was rapidly feeding on small flies that had gather around the muddy debris along the lake margin.
The tern perches remained vacant. A strange looking duck approached across the water. It took me a little while to decide what it was, having not seen a young Shelduck previously.
The species list was growing but the tern photography was failing. Eventually one bird landed briefly.
A second tern then arrived with what looked to be a young whiting firmly clamped in its beak.
One final bird arrived and threw a characteristic tern shape while calling to the birds flying high overhead.
I will admit it was not the most productive tern photography session which was entirely my own fault for not making the time to visit a few weeks earlier. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable morning spent with a small variety of birds in front of the camera. As I often say, there is always next year :)