It has now been four weeks since our first Common Terns (two birds seen on 24th April) returned to Saltholme. Since then the number of terns has increased dramatically with 120 birds counted on Paddy’s Pool Island during this weekends Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). Now is a great time to watch the breeding behaviour of the terns with many birds displaying, mating and nest building. The set of photographs below show just part of a Common Tern’s courtship repertoire.
A female Common Tern behaves like a young chick begging for food.
The male flies off to go on a fishing trip with sticklebacks being easy prey for the terns here at Saltholme.
The male returns and presents a fish to the female.
The female takes the fish from the male and eats it, meanwhile the male tern starts posturing by drooping its wings and pointing its bill skywards.
This behaviour is important for developing the bond between the Common Tern pair. By giving the female tern a fish the male is proving to her that he is good enough to help raise their family in the coming months.