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Tern, Roseate

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Lizet Grobbelaar
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Tern, Roseate

Unread postby Lizet Grobbelaar » Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:29 am

Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii

Roseate Terns are endangered winter breeders. They breed between May-Oct and this is a great time to see them as they have this lovely Pinkish wash on the chest, long white streamers and crimson legs.

We photographed these birds on the beach at Cape Recife in P.E. This is probably also the best place to find them without disturbing the birds, as they come to roost on the rocks close enough to the beach to watch them.

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Re: Tern, Roseate

Unread postby Ed the Hyena » Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:34 pm

It's been known to breed on Bird Island, not?
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Lizet Grobbelaar
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Re: Tern, Roseate

Unread postby Lizet Grobbelaar » Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:05 pm

You're right! Bird Island is part of the Algoa Bay Islands and there's about four together, approximately 60km from P.E.

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Re: Tern, Roseate

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:50 pm

:clap: :clap: Still need to do a lot of travelling! Lovely photo :thumbs_up:
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Lizet Grobbelaar
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Re: Tern, Roseate

Unread postby Lizet Grobbelaar » Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:56 am

Thanks Rusty :thumbs_up:

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Ferdelance » Sat Jul 03, 2010 9:21 pm

Good Evening everyone.

Would appreciate some pointers on Terns. Unfortunately I don't have pics of the birds I saw today but I'll do my best describing them......

I was down at Cape Recife today looking for the Bridled Tern but no luck there. I did however see about 7 Terns among the Swift and Sandwich Terns which has me stumped.
I can only conclude that they are Roseate Terns. The birds were half the size of the Sandwich terns and in full breeding colors. Long black bill with black head and nape. White front and underparts, with red legs. A white rump and long white tail feathers. Also looked like a pinkish wash at the right angle to the sun. My bird book however shows the Roseate with a red bill base? HUH?
I also saw Antarctic Terns and another Tern that had me confused as-well. It could have been a Arctic Tern in non-breeding plumage. It had red to dark black legs and a black bill with white forehead and black nape. Interestingly it had both legs ringed. A silver tag on the one side and a yellow tag on the other.

Hope this helps..... dam I need a good camera!
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Lizet Grobbelaar » Sun Jul 04, 2010 4:04 pm

Ferdelance wrote:I can only conclude that they are Roseate Terns. Long black bill with black head and nape. White front and underparts, with red legs. A white rump and long white tail feathers. Also looked like a pinkish wash at the right angle to the sun.

Definitely Roseate, the pinkish wash with the very long thin tail streamers are typical for them this time of year when they are breeding. Johann took these at Cape Recife in winter....The red bill base is only for a very short time red, some say even as short as a month!
ImageRoseate.
ImageRoseate still coming into breeding

Ferdelance wrote:I also saw Antarctic Terns and another Tern that had me confused as-well. It could have been a Arctic Tern in non-breeding plumage. It had red to dark black legs and a black bill with white forehead and black nape. Interestingly it had both legs ringed. A silver tag on the one side and a yellow tag on the other.

I would agree on non-breeding Arctic, your description fits. :hmz:

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Ferdelance » Sun Jul 04, 2010 5:08 pm

Thanks Lizet.

That confirms Lifer number 340 for me, in the form of Roseate Tern....
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby pnm » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:00 pm

Could the gurus help, please? I took the following photos of a Tern eating a fish at Jefferys Bay last week. I am new to most seabirds. I looked carefully Roberts and first thought Common Tern, but then wondered where the black feathers on the wings were - they are prominent of the Roberts illustration. I noted the black beak, the clear black cap and the fact that the tail appears longer than the wings - I thought Damara tern (but surely out of range) or Roseate tern (but no pinkish tinge that I can see). The leg length was difficult as it was standing in water. I couldn't get very close as it was very nervous.

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Waterbuck » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:16 pm

Hey there Pete - I'm not one of them guru's, but my money is on a Common Tern :hmz:
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Maxwell » Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:15 pm

I'm not a guru and have no idea where Jeffrey's Bay is but I would put my pennies on it being a Damara.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Ladybirder » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:07 am

Pete, its very difficult to determine the size in a Photo But on the first photo there is a fine white line just above the bill which leads me to the Sandwich Tern can't see if there is a yellow tip on bill. But if it is a very small Tern I would also go for a Damara but the black of the head goes to the corner of the bill. I am not a guru on seabirds.

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:57 pm

Definitely not Damara or Sandwich.

Damara Tern has yellow legs and this bird shows no hint of that. Also, Damara Tern is a tiny little bird, about the size of a European Bee-eater. While this is not always apparent from pics, it can be seen that this bird has the proportions of the mid-sized terns. For one, the head would appear a bit bigger relative to the body on Damara Tern.

Sandwich Tern almost always shows a bit of a crest. This bird has a perfectly smooth nape on all three pics. Also, even if the bill was badly lit and the yellow tip could not be seen, it would still appear much bulkier than this. Sandwich Tern has a fairly heavy bill.

The bird you have here is a tricky one. If you had more pictures, or tighter crops at higher resolution of these pictures, it might help somewhat. As an inland birder who only see these birds when I'm on vacation, I can't say that I've really developed a keen familiarity with them but I have seen a fair number of Common and Antarctic and occasional Arctics and Roseates.

I'm hesitant to commit to an ID yet but I will say that I'm getting Roseate feelings off of this bird. Don't set too much store by the pinkish underparts. Those are difficult to discern even with good views. This bird seems to me to have a longer bill than your typical Common Tern. The partial breeding plumage is about right for Roseate at this time of year.

The main thing that bothers me is the tail that doesn't appear to be quite long enough for Roseate. Like I said, it would help a great deal if you have more pictures or even just higher resolution versions of these.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Maxwell » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:48 pm

With you all the way on Sandwich or any other "crested" tern but I still get Damara feelings with this guy. (they do have black legs too!!)
I agree size is difficult without a comparator in long shots and that bill bothers me too. (On the final shot you could be reminded of a Skimmers!!) It is the length of bill v head size that keeps me in the Damara camp. NOt happy about the hint of a whiteline above the gape but this could be light reflection on a wet bill.
As you say some close cropping at higher resolution is needed.

(lucky me! My "Office" overlooks the beach so I have Sandwich, Little and Comic Terns on my garden list.)
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby pnm » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:40 pm

Thanks for the reactions Ladybird, Deefstes, Maxwell and Waterbuck. This was not a particularly small bird - certainly not Bee Eater sized - more large dove sized. I include three more (different) pictures of it - all shot at mazimum zoom in poor fading light of evening so I'd upped the ISO so the cropping hasn't really helped.

I looked though some more boks at the library this evening but am none the wiser. The fact that it has a full black skullcap but no black on the wings puzzles me. Also the beak seems all black. I am really now at sea, if you'll excuse the excrutiating pun.

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