Re: FW: [canberrabirds] Whiskered Tern at Kelly's this am - again

To: Con Boekel <>
Subject: Re: FW: [canberrabirds] Whiskered Tern at Kelly's this am - again
From: Martin Butterfield <>
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 2017 03:18:29 +0000
The words of HANZAB are interesting.  Based on observations from the Northern Territory there is apparently a marked difference between sexes with males eating more fish and females more invertebrates.  

During last year's breeding event on the Hoskinstown Plain the Terns were frequently seen flying in flocks over grasshopper ridden paddocks 100+ metres from the waters edge.  Given the ephemeral nature of that marsh, and it not having a direct connection with a permanent water body I doubt greatly if there were any fish in it.

On 30 September 2017 at 13:02, Con Boekel <> wrote:


That is interesting - the winds were certainly strong yesterday! The capture attempts I observed yesterday all involved part or most of the body of the bird going under water. One small point of interest: nearly all the captures were in lee situations where the water was relatively calm (eg in the lee of Typha stands) compared with other areas. It did occur to me at the time that visibility through the water in the calm areas might have been better than visibility in the wave-tossed areas. I cannot recall seeing examples yesterday of birds picking prey off the surface of the water - which I I would expect to see if the birds were capturing insects rather than fish. While I could not make a positive ID, location in the water column, the size and (very vague) shape of the prey items, as well as the various locations at Kelly's at which captures were made, suggest strongly Gambusia.

The birds were moving about like storm-tossed Autumn leaves and that, along with the strong sunlight from a high angle of sun, made getting passable flight shots, as Julie indicated, extremely challenging. I failed around 600 times in a couple of hours of attempts and ended up with just one or two keepers.



On 9/30/2017 12:20 PM, Geoffrey Dabb wrote:

Although Con has recorded it taking fish, my experience of this species locally is that it appears during periods of strong winds taking large insects blown onto the water surface  -  or perhaps when there are only moderate winds but a lot of insects


From: Con Boekel [m("","con");" target="_blank">]
Sent: Saturday, 30 September 2017 11:29 AM
To: m("","canberrabirds");" target="_blank">
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Whiskered Tern at Kelly's this am - again



Yes to both Dairy Rd and Monaro (briefly in both cases) and none visible while I was looking for them.




On 9/30/2017 10:57 AM, Martin Butterfield wrote:

On Tuesday I wrote down 6 Whiskered Terns at North Weston Ponds and regarded that as a conservative estimate.  There could have been up to 10 but it was, as Julie says,  hard to keep track of them.  I would be very confident that this didn't include the one Michael Maconochie reported from Kellys that morning, so at a minimum there are 7 in the area.


In the past Terns have also been recorded at the poo pits (particularly the set of three ponds): has anyone had a peer into them from either Dairy rd or the Monaro Highway?


On 30 September 2017 at 10:26, Con Boekel <> wrote:

Hi Julie

A Silver Gull joined the Kelly's trio at odd times. Did you see the North Weston Ponds birds between 10 am and 10.55? if so, the total is 6 individuals.




On 9/30/2017 10:18 AM, Julie Clark wrote:

Hi All,


The Whiskered Terns were still at the North Weston Ponds yesterday too. We definitely saw four hunting in the late morning but there could easily have been more ... hard to keep track as the Silver Gulls joined in to make the counting task a little more tricky.


Photos ... that was a challenge!! ... on Flickr in case anyone is interested.





On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 11:13 AM, Con Boekel <> wrote:

3 actively hunting from about ten. They were still there at 10.55; wide-ranging but mostly near the Cygnus Hide.



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Julie Clark





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