IT SEEMS i've not been the only one doing a spot of ornithology lately. There have been hundreds of twitchers flocking the town after a rare bird has been seen at Llandudno's north & west shores, the 'Royal Tern', only the 5th sighting in Britain in fact.
African birds may reach as far north as Spain. This species has also wandered to western Europe as a rare vagrant, these records probably being from the American colonies.
This species breeds in colonies on coasts and islands. It nests in a ground scrape and lays one or two eggs. Like all white terns, it is fiercely defensive of its nest and young.
Royal Tern feeds by plunge-diving for fish, usually from saline environments, like most Sterna terns. It usually dives directly, and not from the "stepped-hover" favoured by Arctic Tern. The offering of fish by the male to the female is part of the courtship display.
This is a large tern, second only to Caspian Tern but is unlikely to be confused with that carrot-billed giant, which has extensive dark underwing patches. Royal Tern has a long yellow bill, pale grey upperparts and white underparts. Its legs are black. In winter, the black cap becomes patchy. Juvenile Royal Terns have a scaly-backed appearance. The call is a characteristic loud grating noise like a Sandwich Tern.