Thursday, 5 May 2011

Rare Pumula Beach record **UPDATED

by Andy Ruffle

David Allan with the Roseate Tern specimen
(Photo Lennart Eriksson)

On friday 29th April 2011 Mike Fagan was handed a dead ringed tern which had been found by a lady walking on Pumula Beach.
Closer inspection revealed a silver SAFRING ring on the right leg and a green plastic ring on the left leg.

David Allan inspecting the SAFRING ring
(Photo Lennart Eriksson)

Characteristics of the bird, black crown with white forehead; long (40mm), black, decurved bill; pale grey wings and red legs, indicated a Roseate Tern Sterna douglii, but initial wing measurements of only 167mm seemed to rule out this ID. The normal wing of Roseate Tern measures c233mm. Little and Damara Terns were ruled out due to a bill size of c30mm. The bird was promptly popped into my freezer, to be given to David Allan, Curator of Birds at the Durban Natural Science Museum, at a later date.

(Photo Mike Fagan)

David's attendance at Barry's memorial service on monday, gave us the opportunity to clear this one up once and for all. It was very fitting then that, after formalities were completed, the specimen was unpacked and placed on a table for further analysis. David immediately confirmed the bird was a Roseate Tern, with the pinky wash of the breast now being evident.
The wing measurement discrepancy was due to the bird moulting, David pointing out that the last two outer wing feathers were only just starting to emerge.
It is believed that the bird was ringed at Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape. The green plastic ring indicates the bird was ringed as an adult.
A paper on the ''green-flagged'' Roseate Terns of the E Cape can be downloaded here.
Mike has contacted SAFRING and we now await more information about dates and the actual place of ringing.
This is an extremely interesting record for the east coast as only one other specimen from this area has been recorded and that was at Durban. That bird is thought to be of the sub-species bangsi, although ours is more likely to be the nominate race.

UPDATE:- Results back from SAFRING indicate that our bird was ringed as an adult on 6th August 2009 at Bird Island, Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape by Anthony Tree.

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