609…610…611..6…What the hell!???
The lunchtime Sandwich Tern roost erupted in a screeching white blizzard, rising up off the beach at Ainsdale today.
I was already practising my “don’t disturb the roosts” speech to the whichever dog walker/horse-rider/birder/photographer/jogger/hiker was responsible before my eye left the ‘scope.
But when I turned around there was no one there.
The terns were still freaking out though and as I lifted my bins I saw four Arctic Skuas approaching from the north, low to the water and looking like they meant business.
They battered the roost for 20 minutes – three dark phases and one pale phase bird, before heading out to sea again.
Merciless, but stunning as they swept in to hit the terns again and again.
Wonderful beasts – a thrill to watch as the pirates tagged teamed over the waves.
Not so much fun if you’re a Sandwich Tern though I suppose.
The terns never really settled after that, and an accurate count was impossible.
At least 600 in one group though, with two smaller roosts north of them, but once the skuas had bullied everything in sight, the roost broke up and the terns headed out into the bay.
Still ain’t seen the albino/leucistic Sarnie – but four hunting skuas was more than ample compensation.