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Monday, 15 June 2009

MEGA: AFRICAN ROYAL TERN relocated in North Wales

The adult AFRICAN ROYAL TERN present recently in County Cork was relocated this afternoon in North Wales, where from 1430-1530 hours it was roosting on the beach a mile west of Abersoch (Gwynedd).

It was then relocated at Abersoch Harbour 5 miles SW of Pwllheli at 1800 hours,roosting on the sandy beach with gulls and showing well. This allowed enough time for six observers to connect before it flew off east after the roosting birds were flushed by a dog.

At 2047 hours, Phil Woollen relocated it at Black Rock Sands, Porthmadog, where it sat for at least an hour (Alan Davies et al).

There are just three previous British records of ROYAL TERN and one from Ireland -:

1) The decomposed body picked up at North Bull Bird Sanctuary (County Dublin) on 24 March 1954 (British Birds 48: 116-117; 61: 559-561; Ibis 1956: 155; Hutchinson 1989).

2) One flew west past St Ives Island (Cornwall) on 2 September 1971 (British Birds 65: 338).

3) An immature, probably first-winter, was seen at Kenfig Pool (Mid Glamorgan) by Steve Moon on 24 November 1979. It was a ringed individual and spent most of the late afternoon resting on a post on the pool. It had been ringed as a nestling in North Carolina, USA (British Birds 75: 510; 76: 335-339; Ibis 133: 222).

4) A first-winter bearing a metal ring on its left leg was seen on The Mumbles, Swansea (West Glamorgan) on 21 December 1987. Two days earlier, what was almost certainly the same bird was seen at Dawlish Warren (South Devon) but not confidently identified (British Birds 85: 530).

There are two additional records accepted as 'Royal Tern' by BBRC

1) One at Shellness Point, Sandwich Bay (Kent) on 28 and 29 July 1965 (British Birds 61: 361, 559-561)

2) An adult first seen at Thorntonloch (Lothian) was later relocated in the evening in Musselburgh Bay on 9 August 1999 (British Birds 93: 538).

I have grave doubts about the identification of the 1965 and 1999 individuals, believing the Kent bird to be most likely a Lesser Crested Tern or hybrid and the 1999 bird to be the Elegant Tern which repeatedly visited Britain over a number of successive years.