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Cape Henlopen Terns


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#1 Melissa :)

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 01:30 AM

Got up close to some terns... but wanna make sure I have the right kind of tern! Seen at Cape Henlopen along the Rehobeth Bay, DE.

1) Posted Image

2) Posted Image

3) Posted Image

4) Posted Image

5) Posted Image

6) Posted Image

Thanks!!

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#2 psweet

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 01:46 AM

1-5 appear to be Forster's, #6 looks like a Royal.

#3 Melissa :)

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 01:50 AM

Thanks psweet!

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#4 guy_incognito

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 03:12 AM

Hmm, I would have called all of them Forster's Tern. Bill looks pretty dark on the last picture, and I thought Forster's were the only terns to get that "eye-patch".

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#5 TheBillyPilgrim

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 03:58 PM

EDIT: I don't know what my problem is this morning, but I completely screwed up breeding common and forster's in my head (citing marks for Forster's as justification for Commons!). Agree with Forster's for 1-5, and a mystery on 6. Sorry about that!

These are tricky, but here's what I see:

1) Common Forster's. White belly and darkish primaries with long tails.

2) Forster's. Distinct eye patch and long neck

3) Common Forster's. "

4) Common Forster's. "

5) Common Forster's. "

6) Not a Royal, body looks too slim. Common is my guess.

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#6 psweet

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 04:34 PM

Common's in breeding plumage should show gray bellies and tails that don't extend past the wingtips when perched. I also think I'm seeing white outer tail feathers on a couple of them -- Common should be gray there and white in the middle of the tail.

The last bird is more problematic -- the bill seems too heavy to me to be a smaller tern. It's clearly a 2nd year bird, molting into it's adult plumage. I can't find any plumage in which Forster's should have the dark inner primaries shown by this guy, and the upperwing pattern seems to fit 2nd year Royal better than anything else, but I'll admit it's a puzzle.

#7 MarkBird

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 04:53 PM

Yes, very tricky. My opinions, if worth nothing more than to foster the discussion:
2 Forster's: As said above, diagnostic eye patch
1 & 5 Forster's: Tail longer than primaries; frosty primaries
3 Common: Underwing light/translucent inner with dark outer primaries
6 Common: Same as 3; Also showing dark triangle on upperwing (not sure if this holds true for immatures?) Posture does look fairly Royal-ish
4: Abstain Tern

Edited by MarkBird, 03 July 2012 - 05:03 PM.


#8 Melissa :)

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 08:29 PM

An Abstain Tern?

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#9 BarnSwallow

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 01:24 AM

Delaware Bay would be by Cape Henlopen. Rehoboth Bay is farther south. Can't help you with the terns!

#10 Grandpa577

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 01:54 AM

I agree with guy-incognito. I think they are all Forster's Terns.

The bird in #2 looks like the bird in #6 - bill size and head pattern with a bit of gray on the back of the neck.

There is something going on with these photos. The upperparts' gray is too dark and the primaries are much too black. The primaries look black like non-breeding Common while the head pattern looks like Forster's. I would opt for the head pattern for the id. The wing pattern on #6 is consistent with the non-breeding Forster's - darker outer primaries but again it should not be intense black, but rather a gray darker than the inner primaries and secondaries.

#11 Hawk Henries

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 02:03 AM

Nice pictures Melissa!!

#12 Melissa :)

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 07:08 PM

Thanks hawkhenries! They were just sitting on and flying around a fence right on the beach that was meant to keep people away from the nesting Piping Plovers. Luckily they sat still long enough to get some clear photos!
And thanks to everybody helping ID these terns!! :)

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