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Help to I.D. a Tern


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I posted this on my local Facebook birding group, and feelings are Common Tern from a couple of people, but the photos are so poor, it's really hard to tell!

I did observe with binoculars and saw this tern at the beach, and I also saw a small flock of Common Tern flying by. This one was by itself, and it immediately struck me as chunkier and not as "graceful" to the naked eye.

With the binos I could see the tail looked different, without the more graceful tips of the Common Tern, it is deeply forked. One photo does show this feature somewhat well.

It had a full dark cap, and also the bill was black and I could see no hint of red. The Common Terns in the flock had visible red on the beaks, as seen through the binos.

It flew around, it came down at the waters edge, at one point it picked something out of the water without landing, in the shallows as the tide ebbed. It also went over to the marshy saltwater pond on the other side of the causeway at this beach. I watched to see if it would dive, I did not see it dive, but it was touching down at times near the shore. Watched it for maybe 15 minutes but it moved around quite a bit. 

Location: Nova Scotia, Crescent Beach. Date Sept. 4. Time of day, late day, 5-ish. 

Photos taken with Canon Powershot, very poor quality, and furthermore, I discovered later the setting had been changed to take small photos...very disappointing as res. in these was even worse than they would be trying to hold it steady and zoom in on a flying bird in fading light at distance...not the equipment i'd choose but there you go! 

Can anyone tell me why or why not it is a Common Tern, or something else? I thought Gull-billed, though they are rare here, there are a few sightings in the past at this time of year for the general area. The distance and lack of detail make it very difficult to tell... but what are your thoughts? Thanks!

tern gull billed perhaps 300 dpi (3) copy.jpg

tern gull billed perhaps (5) copy.jpg

tern gull billed perhaps (6) copy.jpg

tern gull billed perhaps (4) copy.jpg

tern gull billed perhaps (8) copy.jpg

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This looks like a Common Tern to me, as well. The upper surface of the outer primaries is dark, which pretty much rules out Arctic. Forster's wouldn't show this dark cap this time of year. Gull-billed is quite pale overall, with a much heavier bill. Roseate should only have a couple of outer primaries looking dark. Common's do show some variation in timing on when the bill changes color, and it's possible that this is a second-year bird, which would be expected to have a dark bill.

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