Saturday 26 June 1915, New Romney


A glorious Saturday afternoon tempted me on to the beach in the hopes of photographing some lesser terns at their nests. They were shy of the tent however and in this I entirely failed. I noticed vast numbers of common terns fishing about a mile out at sea – a great belt of them, evidently flying over a shoal of fish, for they were exceedingly busy and plopped into the water in rapid succession. With their silvery spoil dangling from their bills the birds would make straight away to their babies on the beach, but these often seemed so satiated that they would ungratefully turn their backs on the proffered dainty.


The ‘lesser’ were fishing closer inland – in fact they were skirting within a few yards of the shingle and were evidently feeding on smaller fry or objects more difficult to detect for they were scrutinising the water most carefully and frequently hovered like a skylark over the surface with head and bill pointed downwards. One clutch of lesser tern’s eggs, on the point of hatching, was very handsome. The ground colour was of a delicate greenish (eau-de-nil) buff: the underlying marks were somewhat blurred and oblique, and of a violet-grey colour. The overlying blotches (or large spots) were mostly collected in a zone round the thicker end and were rich umber-brown.




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