Cayenne Tern, Lady's Island Lake, Wexford (Paul Kelly).
© Paul Kelly
Cayenne Tern, Lady's Island Lake, Wexford
It's not every week that we have the privilege of writing about a Western Palearctic first in either Britain or Ireland. However, high-quality photographs of the putative adult female Cayenne Tern at Lady's Island Lake, Co Wexford, now seem to have allowed the bird's identity to be secured beyond reasonable doubt, with various plumage details considered to be past the limits of what a 'runt' Sandwich Tern or a hybrid might show. Most importantly, these include the bird's diminutive stature, a short, stout, mustard-yellow bill and a distinct charcoal secondary bar, as well as a primary pattern best matching that of Cayenne Tern.

A subspecies of North American Cabot's Tern - a species with two historic WP records from the unlikely locations of Herefordshire and The Netherlands - it is native to the eastern seaboard of South America, breeding from the Caribbean south to southern Argentina. There seems to be some suggestion that the Lady's Island bird's erratic behaviour suggests she is incubating amid the Sandwich Tern colony; one can only hope she is still there for all to enjoy once COVID-19 restrictions on either travelling around or entering Ireland are sufficiently relaxed.