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April 27th.  Vereen Memorial Gardens, Little River, coastal SC at the NC state line.  Tidal estuary at high tide, maybe a mile inland from the ocean as the tern flies, maybe two as the river meanders.

The bird was by itself, flying above the waterway, headed downstream.  It made no attempts at catching fish, appearing more interested in getting where it was going than in getting something to eat.

With terns, I start with bill and feet color, then head caps and patches, then pretend I have a clue about wing markings.  For whatever reason, I have a block on this bird.  If you venture an ID, I'd appreciate knowing what you see that supports it.  Least, Caspian, and Forster's are the likely suspects; Gull-billed and Roseate are in play, at least statistically.

All photos are the same bird, and no others are available.  Feel free to tell me "Unidentifiable tern sp., and get over it."  Thanks.

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Least, Caspian, and Forster's are the likely suspects; Gull-billed and Roseate are in play, at least statistically.

Excuse me. Least, Forster's, and Royal are most likely; Caspian and Sandwich are statistically possible.

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Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

You may have to settle for uncertern, except for the bad puns, they are certern to be abundant.

I'd expect to pick up at least a trace of bill color if this was a breeding Least, Forster's, Royal, or Caspian; or maybe some leg color with Least or Forster's.  I don't know how likely non-breeding adults or immatures are this time of year.  If those parts are indeed all black, that would seem to leave Sandwich, but I'm not willing to die on that hill over these photos.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, Tony Leukering said:

Wing pattern rules out LETE, CATE, ROYT; probably subadult FOTE

Thanks.  As noted, I don't know the plumage cycles on terns and didn't know if young 'uns were an option in April.  I'll see what I can dig up.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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1 hour ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Thanks.  As noted, I don't know the plumage cycles on terns and didn't know if young 'uns were an option in April.  I'll see what I can dig up.

Juvs are not, but subadults are. However, those generally have more dark in the wing. The overexposure of the photos may be hiding dark wing tips, so anything I wrote above can be taken with as many grains of salt as one considers necessary.

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14 hours ago, Seanbirds said:
15 hours ago, kansabirdguy said:

but I have only seen one forester's tern in my life, and that was yesterday

Where? I’m from Kansas too.

I saw it at the top of my driveway, right outside of Keats ( about 7 miles outside of Manhattan I believe). 

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25 minutes ago, kansabirdguy said:

I saw it at the top of my driveway, right outside of Keats ( about 7 miles outside of Manhattan I believe). 

Ah. I’m from south-central Kansas, about 25 miles south of Wichita.

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