Black Tern at Stieglitz, Tasmania.

Subject: Black Tern at Stieglitz, Tasmania.
From: Ian May <>
Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:28:51 +1100
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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