The Tern Report

Forgive me reader for it has been two weeks since I visited my terns.  Fortunately not much has changed and the tern rafts are still afloat.  At first I was worried as it was very quiet out on the water, but I soon saw a tern patrolling the edge along the dam.  When I got the telescope out I discovered that there were a few birds out hunting, but the majority were quietly sat on the tern rafts.  I think there must have been around a dozen birds scattered across the rafts.

The only noise seemed to occurred when another tern came near.  The rest of the time they were either snoozing, preening or wandering about on the raft, I assumed checking out their territory or displaying to their mate.  I did see one exchange of fish, but this was away from the tern raft.  I also  witnessed tern sex so I am hopeful that some egg laying might be on the cards.

It then occurred to me that I know nothing about terns and have no idea how long eggs would take to hatch so some research was in order.  Terns lay up to four eggs in the space of about four days, but continue to mate during this time.  Although both sexes will incubate the egg this is apparently sometimes a bit sporadic – this could explain why there was a fair amount of standing about – the terns often stand next to the egg.  After the third or fourth egg is laid they then settle down to some more sustained incubation.

I’ll have to wait for somewhere between about 23 and 28 days for the eggs to hatch – so hopefully I will see some changes in behaviour around the middle of July.  Then there will be a lot more hunting for fish by the parents for the next month until the young fledge.  I’m hopeful that as the terns seem to come back each year (terns can live up to about 25 years) then they must have successfully bred at some point.  This time I’ll hopefully be watching.

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