During the summer, most, if not all of the black headed gulls that thronged our lakes and riverside throughout the winter months have dispersed to breed at the coast or on our reservoirs.

Consequently, the Thames at Kingston and Richmond is much quieter with no gulls quarrelling over bread thrown by passers by.

In their place come a few common terns but perhaps these days they would be better named as un-common terns.

Although at first glance terns show a certain resemblance to the gulls they are slimmer, lighter, and sporting black caps and forked tails fly with a graceful bouncing buoyancy (pictured).

Often seen in pairs, they patrol up and down the river quite low, heads always pointing downwards until spotting a fish, they hover momentarily  before flicking over and diving to the surface.

A few pairs nest at the London Wetland centre where special rafts are provided for them.

In mid-July at Kingston I watched a family of three young and the adults fishing. The young birds kept up constant rasping 'keeehaugh' calls and appeared to be harassing their parents begging for food.. No doubt their fishing lessons would set them up to become experts before long.

As Autumn approaches the terns will leave our shores and fly back to West Africa to spend our winter in warmer climes.

Let us hope next spring it will be a case of many happy re-terns along the Thames.