J & C Krohn 2/1/04 9:33 PM
> I have tentatively identified these birds as Common Terns. My queries relate
> to the shoulder marking, which none of the books that I've consulted shows as
> clearly as we saw it (for any of the "Commic" Terns), ..........s of
White-fronted Terns, but summer seems
> to be the wrong time to be seeing them in this part of the world.
Whilst it is possible that the terns are something else (some species are so
close in appearance), your description is pretty much a description of the
way our Commons are here at the moment. Plenty of them have dark red legs,
but plenty have black legs. As for the carpal bar, a heavy dark line is also
within acceptability. In fact, last week I was noticing a preponderance of
very heavy dark carpals, and asked myself if I was losing it, or whether I
really had a high proportion of young birds in the flock. It's possible they
had a very good breeding season, but I have no knowledge of that. As for the
variability between individuals, this is quite normal. We often pick out a
bird from a large flock as one which we have been discussing previously,
because of its distinctive something or other, usually associated with the
degree of progression of moult.
I have just finished reading the autobiography of Li Cunxin, the world
famous ballet dancer, who now lives in Melbourne (and no longer dances, a
very good read). He remarks that when he saw his first caucasians, they all
looked the same to him. Terns are like that, and the more time you spend
with them, the more individual their features can become. Just like people.
Sunshine Coast, Qld
26º 51' 152º 56'
Ph (07) 5494 0994
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