A couple of weeks ago I asked for opinions about the apparent out-of-season
breeding plumage of a Crested Tern (CRTE) in Caloundra, SEQld. It would have
been a good idea if, instead of relying on my memory, I had consulted my
notes. Trouble is, I didn't remember that my plumage notes went back as far
as this time last year. And my rfi stimulated an interesting discussion
between Danny Rogers and myself. Danny, I am now reassessing my gut
response about breeding condition in CRTE.
In Caloundra on August 16 of last year we had two CRTE in breeding plumage,
from a sample of 389. Then there was a gradual increase in the proportion of
breeding plumaged CTRE to a peak on Dec 6 at 1089 in breeding condition from
a sample of 1107 birds. (Those unaccounted for may or may not have had
plumage which we were unable to discern.) Then there was a sharp drop off in
CTRE from early Jan, when most birds left to breed.
So the long and the short of it is that a breeding CRTE in July might be
early, but is probably just the beginning of a long buildup in the
proportion of breeding condition birds over several months. I know you were
all hanging out for this information :-)
Sunshine Coast, Qld
26º 51' 152º 56'
Ph (07) 5494 0994
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