Since adopting the Snettisham area as my local patch, there are several things that I have always dreamt about finding... a Red backed Shrike on the hedges of Ken Hill Marsh, a Wood Warbler singing in Ken Hill Wood, a yankie wader feeding with flocks of Dunlin, or a rare Tern, resting on the mud at the south end of the reserve. High tide on July 9th saw large numbers of Sandwich Tern at the far end of the reserve, with a high proportion of juveniles amongst the adult birds. Part way through counting the assembled Sarnies, my attention was drawn to a strikingly pale tern, sat amongst a sizeable group of Commons. Red legs? Silvery grey primaries? Black bill? I had always thought about it (however slim the chances may have been) but here it was for real... a Roseate Tern!! (Patch tick no 222)
Roseate Tern front and back right
After watching it for about 30 minutes, I scanned back to the left to recount the number of Sandwich Terns, only to discover a 2nd Roseate Tern, beyond the original bird, amongst the far right hand flock! After a short wait, both birds came together, before flying out to the Wash after being on view for just over an hour. Thankfully, both returned to the mud, between the first and second hides, where they could be enjoyed by a small number of gathering admirers. A 2nd summer Yellow-legged Gull was also present on the mud, whilst on the pits, an adult Little Ringed Plover (a rare bird for the reserve) had tucked itself into the furthest corner, visible for a short time from the bottom hide, before dissapearing behind the shingle ridge.
Convinced that the fields between Dersingham and the reserve, should be holding at least one singing Quail (Wheat fields, grass verges, what more do they need??) I took full advantage of the still calm evening, and set off accross the fields towards Dersingham, in the hope of securing another addition for the patch year list. At least 300 Swallows had gathered over the fields for a pre roost feed, but despite my best planning efforts (Quail being most vocal in the short window before dusk) any birds present remained stubbornly quiet. Having only just began the return journey home, my attention was drawn to a single bird, fluttering low and close, over the grass corner of the field beside the track. Its long slender wings and tail, combined with its distinctive flight, meant that it could only be one thing! Quite what a Nightjar was doing, feeding over
wheat fields, away from any heathland or open woodland is anyones guess!! I doubt I will ever witness this bizzare event again, but if I dont make the effort to look I shall never find out...