Wiik! Kruit-kruit! Kit-kit-kit. Kekechak! Ra-ga-ga-ra-ga-ga! Purrittittit! Chi-ti-ti-ti-ti-tk!
I’m sure you have instantly recognised the voice of little tern from this. I got it from the nine-volume Birds of the Western Palaearctic.
I heard at least some of these sounds and turned my head to see a merry party of ten or so little terns fishing just offshore as I was approaching Walberswick on the Suffolk coast. I sat on the shingle bank to enjoy the show, for the birds were in a state of tremendous excitement, at every opportunity plunging seawards and looking like winged daggers as they did so.
But the beaks are bright yellow so perhaps they’re more like winged bananas. Either way they’re back from a winter at sea and eyeing the roped-off area of beach where they will soon assemble a few stones and pretend they’re nests. One bird flew triumphantly away from the rest with a silver treasure in his yellow beak: perhaps a present for the gorgeous little tern he has his eye on.
If all goes well they will raise young together right here. If they do so, the young will say: “Ppeppieppiepp!”
You can’t argue with facts like that.