sandwich tern



sandwich tern defined in 1930 year

sandwich tern - Sandwich Tern;
sandwich tern - Bill and feet black; upper part of the head black; mantle pearl-grey; rump, tail, throat, and under parts white; the breast suffused with rose. Length, sixteen inches.

This is the largest of the British terns, being as much superior as the little tern is inferior in size to the arctic and common species. In its manner of flight and language it differs somewhat from the others. At a distance the under parts appear to be of a snowy whiteness; in the captive or dead bird the white plumage is seen to be suffused with an evanescent delicate pink colour. On the wing the Sandwich tern does not look so graceful and beautiful as the smaller species: the flight is heavier, straighter, unwavering, the wings beating more rapidly. Its scream is shorter, less inflected, and has a harsh and even grating sound.

This tern suffers much from the persecutions of the egg-collector, as well as of that base kind of sportsman who is allowed to amuse himself in August and September by slaughtering terns. On the Farne Islands, which are protected during the breeding season, there now exists a considerable colony of Sandwich terns, numbering about one thousand pairs, and a few smaller colonies are found on the coasts of Scotland and Ireland, and on some of the lakes of those countries. On the Fames the birds breed on one of the islands on a flat surface overgrown with sea-campion, and here their nests are placed so close together that it is difficult at times to walk over the ground without treading on the nests containing eggs or young birds. The eggs are two or three in number, and are stone-colour with a yellow tinge, thickly spotted with grey or brown.

Besides the five species described, there are eight terns set down in the books as British. Of these, the Caspian tern, gull-billed tern, and black tern, are described as ' irregular visitors,' and come in small numbers; the whiskered tern, white-winged black tern, sooty tern, Scopoli's sooty tern, and noddy, are all rare stragglers, the last three from the tropics. The black tern (Hydrochelidon nigra) was in reality a British bird in former times, a summer visitor, breeding in immense numbers in the fens and marshes in some of the eastern counties. It bred ' in myriads ' in Norfolk as late as 1818, and, in diminishing numbers, down to 1835. ' Drainage and persecution ' caused the destruction of this graceful species.

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