17 August 2012

A lot more terns in the Burry

Fantastic numbers of terns entered the Burry Inlet to roost on the evening tide today. Positioned on the mound at Wernffrwd I counted 1,707 Common Terns coming into roost along the route shown by the solid blue line. Several hundred more also arrived by the dashed blue line, but as I could not discount these being recycled birds  they are not included in the total. However, a group of 6 Little Terns arrived via this route, so undoubtedly many additional Commons will also have used this route too. A few Arctics and around 30 Sandwich were also seen today, but no Black or Roseate.

The red line shows the more typical pattern of tern movements on the high tide in recent times: Birds frequently gather off Pembrey/Burry Port then as the tides pushes up, they fly up the estuary, generally following the north shore, some then cut across from Llanelli to Salthouse Point and join the gull roosts anywhere between the point and Weobley. Not infrequently birds head right up to Loughor Bridge and may join the gull roost there, or more typically feed for a while before eventually heading back down the estuary mid-channel. They may then inspect or join the south shore roosts, but sometimes ignore them altogether and head straight out towards the lighthouse.
a dread of terns and gulls
Whilst the choice of roost site is highly unpredictable, the routes are predictable and it’s helped me connect with both Roseate and Gull-billed Terns that were initially found at Pembrey and Penclacwydd respectively. The best viewpoints that I know of to see terns in the Burry are shown by the black dots. Definitely worth chancing your arm this weekend as this is by far the highest number of terns I have seen since I started watching the estuary in 1989. The best time to witness all this activity is the hour or two before and after high water. At other times the birds appear to feed out in Carmarthen Bay. The weather of course also strongly influences these unpredictable birds, but following the guidelines above should improve your chances of success.
The end of a memorable tide.

This video is a strong candidate for the worst Common Tern video ever, but gives an impression of the way in which terns were constantly arriving all along the shore between Wernffrwd and Weobley. Click Here

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