Monday, 3 January 2011

Chinese Crested Tern.

Chinese Crested Tern. Craig Robson

This photograph is confirmation of the first wintering Chinese Crested Tern (CCT) for 70 years. The bird was seen in Pulau Lusaolate, Indonesia and represents the first record of the species outside the breeding season for over 70 years. The CCT was first discovered in 1861 and was largely presumed extinct until in 2000 when four adults and four chicks were found amongst a colony of other tern species on Matsu Island off the Fujian coast in China. Four years later it was discovered breeding on the Jiushan Islands and at present these islands along with the Wuzhishan Islands in Zhejiang province are the only known breeding sites of the CCT in the world.

Whilst leading a bird tour Craig Robson soon found a small group of roosting Greater Crested Terns amongst which he at first thought had been a Lesser Crested Tern, however, on checking through is telescope he immediately realised that he was perhaps looking at the first ever winter sighting of a CCT. A quick series of photographs clinched the ID of this amazing discovery.

The suggestion is that the record begs the question of how many more may be wintering in this region and further encourages birders to survey wintering groups of Greater Crested Terns around the islands in the Seram Sea and perhaps even further south in the Banda Sea.

The population of the CCT is estimated at little more than 50 and is China's most threatened bird and Critically Endangered, it is in fact much rarer than the Giant Panda, its greatest threat is by the fishermen who collect the eggs for food - a fact I personally find more than a little hard to believe in the 21st century - which continues despite the breeding sites being within protected areas. The CCT is one of the species benefiting from the 'Birdlife Preventing Endangered Species Programme'.

All this a long way removed from Conder Green perhaps but an excellent tale of discovery. 

And finally....

Whooper Swans. John Bateman.

An excellent photograph of the two adults with a juvenile on Moss Lane last Friday when JB enjoyed his first days birding with me in a month. A good shot of the bird exercising its wings John with my thanks.


Warren Baker said...

So I shouldn't expect one to flyover my patch anytime soon then Pete :-) :-)

Pete Woodruff said...

Wouldn't hold your breath Warren!

I love these 'not extinct after all' discoveries though.