Arctic Wanderers

I arrived at Blashford this morning under clear skies, but we were right on the edge of the cloud and pretty soon it was raining. These conditions at this time of year can cause migrants that are flying over to drop down and even stop their migration, so I arrived early in the hope of seeing something interesting. In fact, under the clear skies there was nothing of note, but by mid morning the rain had come and when I had a quick look over Ibsley Water at lunchtime there were over 70 terns flying about over the lake. I did not have much time as I had to head off, but it was clear that a lot of them, were Arctic terns, a very quick look showed at least 45 were Arctic, not all could be identified as they flew round and several were obviously common terns. However even 45 Arctic terns is a lot for Hampshire.

Arctic terns breed all around the Arctic Circle and often north of it, they breed commonly from N. England northward and are famed for often breeding north of the Arctic Circle and wintering south of the Antarctic Circle, making the longest of all regular migrations. Although common they do not get seen in huge numbers on migration, perhaps because the go overland at high altitude some of the time, certainly seawatching for migrants reveals many more common terns passing in spring.

Part of this group spent the rest of the day on Ibsley Water, although a fair few had gone by 4:30, at which time there were at least 16 Arctic terns and 22 common terns in the 40-42 bird still present. I got a picture, although in the drizzle and at some distance I would challenge anyone to accurately pick out which of these are the Arctic terns and which the commons!

common and arctic terns

common and arctic terns

And, yes there are some of both in the picture!