There is nothing like arriving in a tern colony with your kayak. The overactive black and white nimble birds fly in groups over the beach while screaming loudly. They are like swarming nationalistic hooligans screaming all sorts of insults to me like; ‘Go home!’, ‘Stroma for the terns!’, ‘No foreign invaders!’
While screeching their heads off, they sound like flying rusty referee whistles. When you cross some imaginary line that is only clear to a tern, they swoop right down on you to scream just above your head. Not all at the same time but one by one, like a relentless firing squad.
In case of the swooping attack, it is all about how-low-can-you-go. The majority of the birds swoop down and cry out but stay within a meter from your head. Some dare to go a bit lower and scream ‘BA’ right on top of your head. I expect ‘BA’ is turn for ‘go away’.
As the victim of the ‘low BA swoop’, I’m in danger of getting a heart attack every time it happens, it is so much louder than the majority of the screams. But there is always one….a supreme daredevil, an ultimate vigilante. One that dares to peck me on the head. Not only once but twice! It was a ‘Terror Tern’! It pecked me with a lot of force too! If I didn’t wear my hat, I think it would have drawn blood.