It has been at least 35 years since I last saw a Gull Billed Tern in the UK, possibly longer, and now that my memory has more holes in it than what passes for political logic these days, I can’t really remember the bird.
Mercifully my mind appears to have blotted out any number of Ferruginous Ducks too.
I can live with the latter gap, but I thought I’d refresh the memory with a trip over to Thurstaston this afternoon.
Also enjoying an afternoon off, I picked up fellow public servant Alan Wright and drove through the tunnel to the other side, pulling up at the Dee Sailing Club (why, oh why did I leave my boating cap and blazer at home???) at 1.30pm.
A pleasant enough spot to while away a few hours, we chatted with Jack Taylor, who picked up the tern distantly sailing north along the scum line offshore at 1.45pm – it disappeared to our right, before what appeared to be the same bird flew back up the estuary again at 2.05pm.
Reasonable scope views.
That was it then until the tern reappeared as the tide fell back the exposing sand banks and channels beneath us at 3.45pm.
It flew towards us before pitching down in the wibbly wobbly afternoon heat.
Then the Gull Billed treated us to a flypast – shining as white in the afternoon sun as the adult Med Gull that had floated past a few minutes earlier on the upbeat, but looking greyer on the downstroke.
Something of a primary wedge was evident, and it had a solid black cap, but its dark bill was heavy and distinctive – nice bird.
Ah, it all comes flooding back…..