Thursday, June 18, 2015


I didn't expect to see an Arctic Tern at Austinmer Beach (north of Wollongong) last Sunday. Conditions were warm and still. I watched the bird for about five minutes, recording notes of its appearance into my iPhone as I did. After consulting every field guide I own, I decided the bird was an immature Arctic. One has to be very careful when identifying terns as they have similarities. Common, White-fronted and Little Tern, which are similar in their various forms, had to be ruled out. The Arctic I saw had a clear white rump and tail, black edges to the forked tail, a cap that started above the eye and stretched behind the eye, white lores, smokey black-grey on the shoulders and black wingtips. It also plunged into the water after food (not all terns do this). After consulting with Alan Morris, a man who keeps NSW bird records, I found Arctic Terns are only spotted about three times a year along the NSW coast. So, a real rarity. And a tick. My Aussie bird tally now stands at 536 species. LJ, June 18 2015.

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