Black-naped Tern Sterna sumatrana and Roseate Tern Sterna dougalli bangsi cluster on the beautiful white sand beach of Ilot Kundoyo, a special marine reserve just offshore from Ouano in New Caledonia.
The reserve protects all the marine and island creatures and there are signs to warn visitors not to disturb the sea birds or turtles that nest here. Visitors are not allowed to bring dogs or cats ashore and are cautioned to stay away from the colonies of sea birds.
However, it is not a closed reserve so lots of people go there to visit, especially during weekends and holidays.
The Black-naped Tern is the one with the white crown on top of the head. The head of the Roseate turn is all black.
Both species lay 2 whitish eggs - speckled with grey, black and bown spots - in a slight depression on the beach, where they are (unfortunately) exposed to careless feet and dogs.
The breeding seasons of the two species are slightly offset with the Black Naped Tern breeding from Octopber to January and the Roseate Turn breeding from November to Febuary. During the breeding season the bill and feet of the Roseate Turn changes from black to orange.
In this sphere image, taken at the end of the Roseate Turn breeding season, you can see an almost grown Roseate chick yelling at a Black-naped Turn while two other black-naped terns do an odd little dance nearby.
These are tiny birds, with a maximum wingspan of about 30-cm. They are amazingly agile fliers and feed on very small fish.
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.