High pitched trills heralded that terns were in the vicinity. Gazing seawards, although I could hear them, I could still not see them until there was no mistaking that brief circling hover, brilliant white, aerodynamic swooping plunge. In all there were four birds flying in formation of sorts just after the third breaker. I was so busy fixated on the mini flock at sea that I failed to notice one solitary individual sitting on the jutting wooden post which was fast becoming engulfed by the rising tide. It was late afternoon at Sandbanks in Dorset. The terns fish along the coastline here and have nesting sites on nearby Brownsea Island, which they share with their co neighbouring Sandwich terns.
Common tern (Sterna hirundo) are aptly nicknamed ‘sea swallows’ in account of their long tails and graceful, dainty buoyant flight. During April through to September they can be seen scouring the southern UK coastline for fish usually between 5-15cm long to return to their young.
This tern was just resting on the post and after a few moments of preening, but enough time for me to reel off a couple of shots, the tern rejoined the flock and continued westwards along the coastline becoming little more than iridescent white specks.
Location: Sandbanks, Dorset
Painting medium: Acrylic
Size: 38cm x 19cm