I was out on the Caloundra sandbanks (SEQld) during the weekend to see the
first returned migrant terns of the season. I had received a message from
someone in my sandbanks team that she had seen them from the shore. She
named Common, Little and White-winged Black Terns.
Whilst the arrival date might seem late to wader-watchers, mid-October is a
normal return time for migrant terns in Caloundra.
(While I think of it, is anyone interested if I were to run a tern ID day on
the Caloundra sandbanks sometime in November? I guess it would be a Saturday
or a Sunday. I'm flexible.)
Unfortunately I dipped on the smorgasbord, and only saw 7 Commons up close.
I tootled off to an afternoon party, and then drove by for another look as I
was leaving around sunset. Hundreds of terns had by then arrived for their
evening roost, and I could see that amongst them were plenty of small terns,
but the conditions weren't good enough to ID small species. I suppose there
could have been a thousand terns present, including Cresteds.
Whilst on the sandbanks I examined a flock of 190 Bar-tailed Godwit. I found
9 juveniles in the flock - a strike of almost 5%.
For birders who have yet to master the difference between mature and
juvenile godwit in the field, now is the time to get out there and learn. At
no other time of the year is the difference as great as now, and the
difference diminishes as the weeks pass. Juveniles almost look like
different species, although common sense tells you that they are godwit. The
juvs are really slim and very "spotty" on the back compared with their
parents, whose wing feathering is more even in appearance. The individual
back and wing covert feathers of an adult are brown fringed with buff, but
the juvs have white notches along the fringes of the wing feathers. Go and
have a look if you can.
PS: I'm not on birding-aus at present, trying to avoid distractions.
Sunshine Coast, Qld
26º 51' 152º 56'
Ph (07) 5494 0994
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