Saturday 7 December 2013

A Forster's Tern in Newfoundland

Cut to the chase:

Ian Jones and I found a 1st winter Forster's Tern in Renews this morning. About the 7th record for the province, and the 2nd winter record. Last one was on a CBC in 2008. All other records are between mid-October to late November.

The bird had an obvious dark patch around the eye, and in flight didn't seem to have much duskiness along the nape connecting the two eye patches. The crown was white, the bill was dark and seemed thicker than that of a Common Tern. Also, the wings seemed broader based and didn't have that slender and angled-back look of a Common Tern which made it seem more like a Bonaparte's Gull - which is what we thought it was at first glance.

The duskiness on the back of the head is obvious in this photo. Adults don't show this amount of darkness on the nape:

Ian and I were with 3 Snowy Owl hunters. They wanted to see Snowy Owls so we were headed straight for Cape Race where an unimaginable number have been seen in previous weeks. We made a quick pass through the inner bay of Renews for a quick check. I'm pretty sure I've never driven by Renews without making this quick pass - but have never seen anything good there. Before we could come to a stop we saw this bird which we all thought was a Bonaparte's-type gull at first.

When it turned I saw that it was a tern and quickly shouted: "It's a tern! Forster's tern is probably more likely at this time of year"
As soon as I said that, Ian identified it as a Forster's Tern.

Not long after that we were getting great looks at the bird as it did laps of the small inner bay and eventually landed on one of the shorebird rocks.

Later that day we saw over 100 Snowy Owls. That's another post.

The End