Sunday, October 08, 2006

Caspians Return

A recent trip to Marion Bay Spit gave me the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with one of my favourite birds, the Caspian Tern. I'm not quite sure what it is about them that has always fascinated me, perhaps it's their slightly exotic look, or perhaps, more likely, their somewhat pugnacious habits. I have seen Caspians on three continents, including most recently, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Caspians are the largest of the 38 or so terns found worldwide, having a wingspan of around 135cms., which is similar to both Kelp and Pacific Gulls. They usually return to Tasmania during September, and many coastal areas around the state, will have a pair or two, with numbers increasing later in the year with the influx of young birds. Most of the breeding takes place on offshore islands, with The Nuggets (off the East Coast), being the largest known colony. Most birds leave by late April, with the occasional bird overwintering.
The birds pictured here, seemed somewhat suspicious of my motives on approaching them, and turned on the aggressive display seen here. However, approach a nesting pair and the display will get much more aggressive, to the point of diving at the individual, much as Masked Lapwing do, accompanied by a deep guttural call. Quite intimidating! This pair will probably breed on nearby Visscher Island.

1 comment:

John & Shirley Tongue said...

We saw a pair (or possibly more than one pair) hanging around Rostrevor Lagoon on our way back from Freycinet about 10 days ago. We hadn't seen them on bodies of freshwater before.