Thursday, 27 June 2013

Caspo or not so?

With seemingly ideal conditions I headed to Buckenham Marshes RSPB just after lunch for a spot of Raptor watching. I found a suitable vantage point and parked up, overlooking woodland and the marshes. By 2pm, I had seen little to get excited about, 4 Common Buzzards the sum of my efforts. However at just after 2pm, I picked up what I initially assumed was a Gull distantly, but heading towards me. I soon realised this was a Tern, the flight too languid for a smaller Tern species but still distinctive. This was bigger than a Black-headed Gull. Soon enough, the bird was above me. I expected to see a black bill of a Sandwich tern, but instead got a carrot-coloured bill. Surely not? A Caspian?! Sadly the bird was lost to view heading north over Buckenham Woods. I calmed myself, and phoned RBA requesting the bird go out as a possible.

Why not a definite for me?

  • The bright sunshine I was staring into meant that the full suite of ID features could not be obtained. I could not see the primaries well enough to confirm nor deny black patches.
  • The bird was some feet above the tree line, and on a bright day with nothing to compare this bird to in terms of size, the usual caveats exist.
  • I did not notice streamers or  particularly long tail feathers, but I could not say for sure it was very short either. The direction of flight did not help.
  • I have never seen this species before! I dipped both the Thornham and Buckenham birds. 
  • Can I honestly rule out Royal Tern? In that light and again with no experience of either in the field, I'm not sure I can, however unlikely.
  • I never find anything decent.
Any thoughts welcomed.

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