Thursday, 8 August 2019

South African Sandwich Surprise

In this day and age with the introduction of satellite tagging and other technological advancements, we know the incredible journeys that some of our avian friends can make. However, (for me anyway) these incredible journeys are just facts and figures that go in one ear and out the other. The distances are merely numbers that mean very little. Yesterday I encountered a bird that changed that thought process!  

Whilst checking the mouth of the Camel Estuary at Padstow, Cornwall to see if any interesting Gulls or Waders were about I came across a group of Sandwich Terns resting on some nearby buoys. From a distance I could see that one was sporting a color ring! Not near enough to read it I scrambled to the car and sped towards it in a bid to read the combination. After narrowly avoiding the pasty eating "emmets" (local terminology for tourists) I was much closer and had a chance of reading the ring. To my relief I managed to get the scope out and locked on to the still settled bird! The ring was read and I was a happy chap. This was even more of a relief as another local (suppressor) birder flushed it shortly after as they were trying to get "photos" of the Terns! Ironic that the same person has chastised countless people down the years for their poor photography behavior!

Color ringed Sandwich Tern

The Tern had a yellow ring and the combination was KKT. After a quick look on the CR Birding website I had it narrowed down to an Irish Scheme and sent off the details. 

I was delighted to receive an email from the ringer of the bird Mr Tony Murray this morning with the movement details of the bird. Here is his response:

"This is one of our 2017 birds, so it is now a 2nd Summer bird. Ringed 21/6/17, seen as a juvenile on site that July then a few times over its 1st Winter in South Africa. I’m guessing this is its first venture back north."

The movement details:

KKT
DD78779
21/06/2017
Inish, Lady's Island Lake, Wexford
KKT
DD78779
07/07/2017
Inish, Lady's Island Lake, Wexford
KKT
DD78779
16/11/2018
Strand, Cape Town, Western Cape Provence, South Africa
KKT
DD78779
27/11/2018
Strand, Cape Town, Western Cape Provence, South Africa
KKT
DD78779
02/03/2019
Strand, Cape Town, Western Cape Provence, South Africa
KKT
DD78779
03/03/2019
Strand, Cape Town, Western Cape Provence, South Africa
KKT
DD78779
07/08/2019
Padstow Harbour, Camel Estuary, Cornwall, England

I was flabbergasted when I read that this bird had been observed in South Africa! This is a distance of 6155 miles in a straight line! Again more figures that doesn't equate to much mentally until
you see that plotted on a map.

Not many movement maps that require a picture of the whole Earth!
When you have to plot a journey like this you really do getting a feeling on how magical some of our species are and the arduous journeys they make. 

      

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