|Arctic Tern at Alexandra Park this morning: the first-ever site record.|
|Note the pattern and translucence of the primaries on the upperwing (above) and underwing (below).|
The jizz of the bird felt wrong for Common, its shape with relatively compact head and bill, 'forward-placed' wings and long rear all pointing to Arctic Tern, as did its buoyant, graceful flight. A closer look at the wing pattern was the only other evidence I needed, a long, narrow dark trailing edge to the often translucently white primaries confirming the identification.
On London's large, deep-water reservoirs in the main river valleys, Arctic Tern is more expected in spring. But here in suburban north London, on this relatively tiny water body, it is exceptional - there are no previous records. So I immediately rang around the park regulars, left voicemails and sent texts, and before too long the bird was also seen by David Callahan, Gareth Richards, Gabriel Jaime and Alan Gibson. I found it at 08:03 and it must have just arrived, as Bob Watts checked the reservoir on his normal early circuit some 30 minutes or so previously. It stayed until 09:21, when Gaz and Gabriel watched it head off east. It was the 177th bird species recorded in Alexandra Park and the third new addition to the list this year, after my Great White Egret in February and Bob's Slavonian Grebe last week. No new species were added in 2012, so we are well ahead of target!
|The Arctic Tern with a second-calendar-year Black-headed Gull for direct comparison.|