Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The Young Ones

Out with part of my own brood at Newbiggin Beach this morning ahead of the (alleged) coming rainfall, it was apparent that I was not the only parent with youngsters to look after. The small gull roost at the north end of the beach had a couple of extra visitors with a couple of juvenile Common Tern sitting on the beach.
Brian Bullough joined me after a few minutes from his viewpoint on the prom and between us we agreed that they were the first that either of us had seen this year. We had a chat, one of my children tried to steal Brian's watch and we parted company. The light was bright but the heat haze even at ten thirty was a bigger problem.

Common Tern, juvenile, Newbiggin Beach.
Much like my own offspring they quickly let you know when they want something, I guess sand eels are the tern equivalent of Cadbury's Buttons.
Common Tern, juvenile, Newbiggin Beach.
The parents were fishing close inshore along the beach and at least one was quickly back when we got too close, calling above our heads in 'Farne Island' fashion ensuring we made a quick retreat to a distance that didn't trouble them.

Common Tern, adult, Newbiggin Beach.
Back at the car and shaking the sand from their backsides I caught a glimpse of colour to my right. Take your eyes of my kids as you try and curtail their freedom and they are off and running, generally in opposite directions so I had to wait until I had them safely locked down before I had a closer look. Let's be honest it's Newbiggin so momentarily I was in 'Bloody Hell that's not from the WP' mode before taking a step back and noticing the stunning similarity to juvenile Common Starling in moult. Was it some sort of local colour marking scheme? Intrigued I hung about.

It didn't take too long for the penny to drop. Two of the blighters feeding on nectar from the flowers on one of those big ornamental spiky foreign grasses (?) that often get planted in a coastal setting by well meaning councils wanting you to feel like your in the Med.

Amazing opportunists Starlings aren't they? These two must be no more than a few weeks out of the nest and yet have an innate ability to exploit such a wide variety of food resources from trundling across belts of seaweed to pulling grubs from the lawn and nectar feeding.
We called back at QE2 on the way home as the kids were catching some zeds and another young un out and about with parent in close attendance was this Jackdaw. Chip off the old block. Has anyone else noticed that quite a few Jackdaws have a tendency to drop one wing slightly when walking like the adult on the right?


Anonymous said...

Excellent set of Photos, Alan. That`s the first time i`ve heard of Starlings taking nectar. Well spotted observation.

Alan Tilmouth said...

After a little checking tonight it is cited in BWP as a food source so has been recorded before. Not sure whether it's been photographed before though.

Thing said...

The stains do make them stand out for sure. On first scanning I did have a mild 'wtf?' moment.

Northumbrian Birding said...

Yes nice one Alan odd looking photo at first glance.