Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The other day we were sitting on the front verandah chatting to our friend Tom, when I suddenly caught sight of a flash of white feathers in the tall old White Oak up on the edge of the woodland.
The bird is resting on the branch - towards the top lefthand corner
I realised that the first pair in our extended family of Fairy Terns had come back after spending the winter up in warmer climes to the North. And they were definitely in mating mode!!!
You can see the female slightly above and to the left of the centre
It is said that these little sea birds return generation after generation to the same tree and the same branches.
No nests for these little creatures. In a little while the female will lay her egg directly onto a branch, where it will sit securely, attached by a sticky secretion from her body.
When the fluffy grey chich emerges from his or her egg, he or she will also remain glued to the branch, thanks to the same secretion.
When I say "securely," they are high up enough to be safe from the predations of cats ......most of the time!!
These birds do not come down to the ground. However, we used to have a cat, Flynn, who managed to snare a tern or two each summer. He would leap into the air after them as they swooped low near the ground!
Their main enemy, however, is the weather, and when there is a severe storm or cyclone, there are always a number of casualties.
Sometimes we try to rescue these orphans who are blown from their trees. When Karlene and Jack had a shop in the Village, they rigged up a suspemded branch or two on the verandah between the posts, and each summer there would be a row of fluffy baby terns perched there waiting for a feed of guppies from the Kingston creek. But there is no substitute for the food brought back from fishing trips by Mum and Dad, and the adoption process by humans is not always successful.
Hopefully our little pair will soon be joined by the other family members, and they will be successful in rearing several members of the next generation.
The fluffy chicks will remain there until they acquire their sleek white adult feathers. Then, after some flying lessons, they will join their elders on the trip back to the Phillipines, or wherever they go, and the cycle will begin over again.
Meanwhile we will enjoy the summer treat of seeing them swirl in the air overhead. They always seem to fly in pairs - they say it is because "One good tern deserves another" or "they are taking it in terns" or even "tern and tern about".
Below is the page I did for my "Devon Book." The picture of the birds is a little pixellated, because I had to enlarge it so much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love seeing all your pictures of the wildlife and flora it's given me an appreciation of where you live. I'd love to visit the island sometime to see it myself, maybe one day.

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