Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Colour-ringed Sandwich Tern

A quick bog post about a colour ringed juvenile Sandwich Tern that I had at Ardmore beach just east of Carna last Thursday. I had a flock of just over sixty Sandwich Terns resting on the beach here. It's one of the few spots where they rest up on the mainland away from the breeding colonies. The nearest Sandwich Tern colony this year was about 16 kilometres to the east at Costelloe near Rossaveel. There were just a handful of juveniles in amongst the flock and the logical thought would suggest that these were locally born young. I was surprised to see one of the juveniles was wearing a white darvic on the left leg and a metal ring on the right. It appeared slightly more advanced in its moult compared to the other juveniles in the flock but it was still very clearly a juvenile/first calendar/hatch year individual. I thought there would be virtually no hope of reading the code as terns are usually skittish at the best of times. I tried to edge closer and closer over a long period and after the flock settled down a little I managed to read the ring - K4T.

I regularly see Sandwich Terns with metal rings here in Connemara but without nearly seeing the bird in the hand it's impossible to read these in most circumstances. The only sites in Ireland where Sandwich Terns are ringed that I'm aware of are Inch Island Lough in Co. Donegal and Lady's Island Lake, Co. Wexford. It didn't take long to find out that it was from the latter site and was ringed by work colleague Tony Murray on 17th June, only seven weeks ago! That's a movement of 260 km in a straight line between the two sites but it's far more likely that this bird easily covered twice that distance if it like most Sandwich Terns, it flew along the coastline. The nearest previous resighting of juvenile Sandwich from Lady's Island was from Kerry last August. There have also been a few from around the Irish Sea as well. The bird wasn't being fed by any adults so it looks like it was on it's own.

Most of our Sandwich Terns winter along the Atlantic coastline of Africa. Have a look at the BTO site for a map of UK and Irish recovered Sandwich Terns https://app.bto.org/ring/countyrec/resultsall/rec6110all.htm
Inner Galway Bay is one of a handful of sites in Ireland where Sandwich Terns winter, less than a dozen birds at most. I've encountered two colour ringed birds here in recent winters both of which originated from the Farne Islands off Northumberland in north east England.

Juvenile Sandwich Tern K4T

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