White-Fronted Terns (Sterna Striata)

White-Fronted Terns (Sterna Striata)

A Skywatch Friday photo. More Skywatch images at the Skywatch Site!

The Gannet colony at Muriwai is also nesting and breeding site of white-fronted terns (sterna striata). Some of the time they are congregating on ledges on Motutara Island, some of the time underneath and beside the southern point opposite. And in between they play chasies, either in large swarms as seen a couple of weeks ago, or breaking into smaller groups of 2-4 or more, occasionally coming close enough to the viewing platform to tempt me to shoot. Always noisy, always fun to watch, as they fly on unpredictable paths, following their whims.

Offers of fish play an important part in the interaction between terns, but the exact nature of the play is a bit of a mystery to me. I have observed birds that carried the fish in their beak over a long period of time before it was offered, and sometimes the fish was passed back after some time – who knows what they are thinking…