Update on Antarctic terns, Kangaroo Islamd

To: <>
Subject: Update on Antarctic terns, Kangaroo Islamd
From: "Simon Mustoe" <>
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 2006 04:37:21 -0700
The Antarctic terns were again at Cape du Couedic on Kangaroo Island today. In 
a brisk southeasterly wind, they were located for most of the day (11am-4:30pm) 
on Casuarina Island, about 300m offshore. From the boardwalk at Admiral Arch 
using a scope, at about 40x zoom, the adults  were easily found. They tend to 
perch on the lowest rocks, along the lower edge of the line of white-fronted 
terns, closest to the base of the rocks. All the terns (crested, white-fronted, 
antarctic) were very mobile, regularly taking flight, dropping onto the sea and 
often heading some distance offshore. On one occasion in the afternoon, I 
observed a close fly-past by an Antarctic at the boardwalk, which afforded good 
views of the tail (lacking black edge to outer feather), the uniformly plain 
grey underwing, strong contrast between rump/tail and mantle, and grey belly 
and throat. Viewed at full zoom (60x) most diagnostic features could be seen on 
birds perched on Casuarina island: grey belly and !
 throat, white cheeks, all red bill, red legs (relatively long compared to 
Arctic tern). The bills also appear thicker-based than in arctic and flattened 
laterally- more dagger-shaped  than in arctic and reminiscent of bill-shape in 
Caspian tern. Build-wise, the birds appear quite rotund, compact and less 
attenuated than white-fronted (and Arctic). The tail streamers only just extend 
beyond the wing-tips. The primaries are very slightly darker grey than the 
mantle and contrast with broad pale tips to the secondaries.

The birds are in body-moult but the majority of the throat, chest and belly is 
grey, contrasting with the white cheeks. The black caps are complete between 
the nape and top of the head but almost the whole forehead is white. 

To date, I understand the birds have tended to only perch near to the mainland 
in relatively light winds / northerlies. What I found was the birds can be seen 
and IDed offshore but only with a good scope. Even then, a patient vigil is 
required to ensure you don't miss occasional fly-pasts, which reveal crucial 
additional features. 


Simon Mustoe


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