Thursday, May 7, 2009

Terns - Again -

- BUT a different one this time! A Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis).
I was told that the Lesser Crested Tern was sometimes seen here but it's taken me more than three years to see and photograph one. When I see a flock of roosting terns I take lots of photos because I know that they often fly off long before I have had a chance to have a good look at all of them. Then when I get home I can closely examine all the photos to check for any details that I have missed seeing. Photos also let me examine details on the plumage that it is impossible to see in real time. A bird with its wings spread about to fly off - or landing - clearly shows moult in the flight feathers - impossible to see in split seconds in real time! I certainly missed seeing this bird out on the sand flats but I found I had taken photographs where it was visible in at least four different poses.
Thanks again to Jill Dening for her expert help and patient teaching!
The Lesser Crested Tern is smaller than the Crested Tern and its bill is a darker yellow/orange. However, the plumage is very similar. I have left these photos quite large (when you click on them) to show details better.


  1. Nice photos, Mick.
    Great to have species mixed and labelled.
    Very handy for me, who is not really familiar with them close up like that.

  2. Thanks Denis. When I was trying to learn all the shorebirds I found the hardest thing was to pick them out of a group. None of my books showed relative size - which I really wanted. So I still look at my photos for this.

  3. Mick, that's an excellent tip to help ID, something I must try in future. I must admit that I often keep a few pics on the camera when leading walks so that I can show visitors what a particular bird actually looks like rather than illustrations in a guide book.

  4. Thanks Frank. I started taking photos this way when I was trying to ID all the shorebirds which I did NOT know at that time and I have kept doing it because I can look at details so much better.

  5. Great photos Mick. What a good idea to label them. Must do that with some of mine. I agree that too many books do not show relative size.

  6. Thanks John, Now I've got all the other nature blogs to help but even a few years ago that wasn't possible. I now actively look for photos with more than one species.

  7. Great post (as usual), Mick!
    I think I have to revise and re-label the Crested Terns on my blog to Lesser Crested, now when I'm looking at your images, esp. the more orange color of the bill.

  8. Hi Nickolay, according to HANZAB (Handbook of Australian, New Zealand, and Antartic Bird Volume 3 which has copious details on shorebirds and Terns) Lesser Crested Terns don't go down as far as Tasmania.