Exciting sighting! What age was the bird? And did you notice any other plumage
characteristics? Dark sides on the breast alone cannot rule out a White-winged
Black Tern as they can show one when moulting body feathers though this is
rarely as marked as on Black Tern. I am not saying that the bird you saw wasn't
a Black Tern, but your written description is not enough to rule out
White-winged Black Tern. In any case good luck with your BARC submission if you
decide to do so. :).
> Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:28:51 +1100
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Black Tern at Stieglitz, Tasmania.
> g'Day all
> At about 3.30pm on Tuesday afternoon (18/11/2014) while exercising my
> dog at Windmill Swamp, Stieglitz Tas. I observed a solitary Black Tern
> (Chlidonias niger) in non breeding plumage, feeding vigorously around
> the vegetated rushy, reedy margins of the fresh water swamp. After
> about 1/2 an hour, the bird ceased feeding and began circling rapidly,
> ascending to an estimated 150 meters height where it then flew south for
> as long as I could watch it holding my binoculars and to where it was
> just a speck in the sky, almost out of sight it then descended out of
> sight towards Jocks Lagoon also fresh water. (RAMSAR site), about 1 km
> away from where I was standing.
> Most distinctive feature from distance is its buoyant and erratic,
> flitting, darting flight. Its direction changes were remarkable to
> watch, rapidly swooping, back flitting and diving from about 10 meters
> to the water surface among reedy vegetation feeding on what appeared to
> be surface insects. Unique face markings, dark marks on sides of
> breast, white collar and rapid floating, buoyant, darting erratic flight
> were the most characteristic features that I could see.
> The next day and also today (Thursday) I was unable to relocate the bird
> after searching all coastal swamps and suitable habitats from St Helens
> to Falmouth. I did not have a camera with me, but 100% certain of this
> bird's identity having experience with and studied both Whiskered and
> White-winged Black Terns in previous years. The purpose of this note
> is to alert observers in Tasmania to be on the lookout. I will post
> more information in the next week with all minor detail.
> I decided to post this on Birding-Aus because for me, BA offers the more
> for bird watchers, not just for twitchers and seems to have the best,
> most comprehensive and reliable archive.
> Good birding and best wishes
> Ian May
> St Helens, Tasmania
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