Sunday, 29 August 2010

Venus Pool - Whiskered Tern

Whilst I'm over the moon with getting some good pictures of this bird which allowed a correct identity to be reached, there's more than a little bit of regret! Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if I'd put the various clues together whilst watching and photographing this bird, the correct identity would have emerged sooner, it was a Marsh Tern alright but..... - a County 'first' - a juvenile Whiskered Tern!

I was still wrestling with 100's of Titterstone Clee Wryneck images late Sunday evening and rapidly turned a couple of cropped images of this Tern around for the SOS site. I often look closely at the key ID features at this stage (mainly as a learning tool for my own benefit!!) and blog why a bird is what it is - if only I had on this occasion ......

Anyway back to late Sunday afternoon..... There were about a dozen birders who saw this bird, some very experienced and Whiskered Tern was on the short list of 'possibles' or even 'White winged' but the consensus of juv Black Tern, at the time, duly emerged and that's something we'll have to live with!

A taster of the typical view on the far bank....

Occasionally coming nearer....

It never paused from flight over the two hour period I watched it. I was precoccupied in trying to catch it picking up insects from the water surface (blink of an eye job!)

A nice flight portrait showing the upperwing details, on one of the very few occasions it soared against the sky. The strong bill, brown marked saddle and pale grey tail with pale rump, in the cold light of day, clearly point to a Whiskered Tern. We had eliminated White-winged Black tern as the rump wasn't contrastingly white enough!

The green background of the far bank trees etc and 'manual focus' was responsible for helping me get a few more 'keepers'.

I did note the lack of a dark breast side patch which could have swayed the verdict to 'Whiskered' but after discussion the assumption was made that the hint of one visible this would 'darken up'? The upperwing shows a dark carpal bar which coupled with the above kept the call of Black Tern alive.

Oh well, all good but humbling experience and 'mistakes' can have a beneficial effect if you learn from them! Apologies to those who missed out on this - it's a Whiskered Tern and I'm not alone in emerging a lot wiser!

Interestingly, the long staying Cleveland bird was not seen on the 28th and looking at web images, this could well be the same bird. A 'probable' has just turned up at Rutland this evening (Tues 31st) too. Will be interesting to see some images from there too......

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