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
St Helens, Tasmania
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