Antarctic Terns complete their Patches breeding

King Bird Watch

Dawn and Amber Repetto's King Bird Watch 2018-2019

Dawn and her daughter Amber have made several visits to a breeding site of a pair of King Birds (Antarctic Terns) on a wall at the Potato Patches. Her visits show eggs and growing chicks as they develop and fledge, giving a wonderful insight into birds who prefer inaccessible ledges on cliffs or on rock stacks, known as Hardies on Tristan.

First visit on 18th December

Dawn Repetto's photographs show an adult Antarctic Tern or King Kird (local name)
on and by its nest on a patch wall in the Below the Hill area at the Potato Patches.
The two speckled eggs can be seen in the right hand photo.

Second visit on 31st December

Third visit on 6th January 2019

Adult with the two chicks - the right hand one developing typical juvinille plumage.
Chicks with adult guard
From the front chicks still have the 'fluffy' new born look awaiting a complete set of juvenille feathers.
Notice how well camouflaged the chicks are
against the background rocks and vegetation.
Nevertheless the eggs and chicks are vulnerable to predation
by rodents and Antarctic Skuas (Hen Birds).

Fourth Visit on 20th January

Adult with the two young King Birds
The two young King Birds - they are now close to fledging away from the nest area.
Juvenile terns with these colourings are commonly seen in small flocks
on the Tristan Settlement Plain throughout the year.

Above: More images above of an adult and chick:

Left: Dawn was clever enough to spot this fish -
believed to be a tiny (or fingerling?) snoek -
that has been caught be one
of the adult King Birds
ready to feed to its young.

Fifth Visit on Sunday 27th January

One of the adult King Birds
bringing in a tasty red small fish for the chicks

One of the chicks now in full juvenile plummage.

The two chicks / juveniles making early flights above a Patches wall.

Another chick / juvenile testing flight.

The pair of chicks onb the wall -
will they be there again when Dawn returns?

Watch this space!

Sixth Visit on 3rd February

Dawn and Amber returned to the nest site again on Sunday 3rd February when the young had flown, but two adults, thought to be the parents, were still in the area, probably keeping an eye on their young. One young kingbird was spotted quite a few Patches down but by the time they got there it had flown towards Boat Harbour Bay. Dawn added:' It will be sad not seeing them.'

Thanks to Dawn and Amber for their King Bird watch.

The local Antarctic Terns or King Birds - Sterna vittata tristanensis - are endemic
to the the Tristan da Cunha islands and are commonly seen between September and May,
with some present all the year, others wintering off South Africa.
Numbers on Tristan, estimated at 50 pairs in 2007, may be increasing
as evidenced by nest sites like this one on the mainland.
Often King Birds breed on sea stacks, known locally as 'Hardies'.