Commic terns

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Commic terns
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2001 15:02:46 +1000
Jill Denning's right that the term "Commic Terns" comes from
Britain - "Commic" is a contraction of "Common" + "Arctic". But
she's wrong to imply Commic Terns are only difficult to separate
in non-breeding plumage. 

In the UK I found Arctics very difficult to tell from Common
Terns in breeding plumage except when they flew almost into the
sun, showing the more extensive translucent wing feathers. I
never found the species resting anywhere where I could actually
compare the lengths of their legs. 

The field guides are improving but Mike Carter's article on "The
'Commic' Terns" in the December 1994 Wingspan, I reckon, still
provides the best way of sorting them out.

Michael Norris

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