Bird’s eye view: Arctic tern appears to join in spot of bird watching – from twitcher’s head
This is the moment a bird watcher found himself slightly closer to his subject than he expected – when one landed on his head appeared to join in the twitching.
The hilarious image, captured by Simon Newman, shows Richard Baines using his binoculars to look for arctic terns, while one lands on his head appears to squint into the distance to spot what he’s looking at.
Simon, 55, had been on a bird-spotting expedition with Richard, 50, on the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, when the bird took an interest in him, even packing his hat and ears.
The bird, which was thought to be trying to protect its nest, spent a number of minutes standing on Richard’s hat, even taking the time to stare out in the direction he was pointing his binoculars.
Simon, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, said: “It was such a funny photo because I waited until the tern was facing the same way as Richard with his binoculars.
“It was quite humorous as it looked as if the bird is looking to see what they’re all trying to see. I love the look on the birds face and how Richard seems oblivious to it, like he’s trying to spot what is right on his head. It certainly tickled people.
“The arctic terns are quite aggressive and are not very friendly, especially since we were right in the middle of breeding season so they would have been protecting their nests. They had chicks and eggs around so were being very protective.
“You definitely need to wear a hat. But it’s well worth a visit. You could hear them all around you, right above your head, it was really something. It was a bit like a Hitchcock movie to be honest. One or two kids who were there were quite freaked out but the adults were in awe.”
Richard is a tour guide with Yorkshire Coast Nature and does two trips a year to the Farne Islands so is no stranger to the terns’ antics – though this one in particular amused him more than usual.
Richard, from North Yorkshire, said: “You have to walk on a footpath that runs by bird’s nests and they are very protective so they start mobbing you, some even dive bomb you to protect their eggs.
“This one settled on my hat and admittedly it took me a second to realise, which is probably how Simon got such a funny photo of me still with my binoculars up.
“It started pecking at my hat and my ears, but thankfully it didn’t draw any blood, which they have been known to do.
“It provoked quite a few laughs from people in the group. People aren’t used to seeing birds do that so it gets quite a reaction. Most people were just blown away by the number of the birds and how bold some of them are.
“It’s one of the best places in Europe to see wildlife – it’s basically the closest you will get to the Galapagos in Europe.
“I’ve been working in this all my life and it has got to be easily among the best experiences.”
Arctic terns, often known as sea swallows, are long distance migrants, spending summers in the UK and winters in the Antarctic.