Sunday, 4 December 2011

**UPDATED ** 'Sooty Tern' found in Park Rynie

Text by Andy Ruffle, Photos by Bill Clarke

On 19th November 2011 Sandy Olver found this dead tern whilst walking on Park Rynie beach.
After proper inspection, it was realised that this appears to be a Sooty Tern.
Previously considered an uncommon vagrant, with only a few shore records reported, it is now known that flocks of 1000+ occur within territorial waters off the coast of KZN.

Unfortunately, the bird was not ringed, so we will never know where it originated from.
The specimen is now safely in Sandy's freezer awaiting preservation and confirmation of ID.

At the end of year function on 4th December, Sandy was able to confirm that she had taken the specimen to David Allan, the Curator of birds at the Durban Natural History Museum.
He immediatley identified the bird as a sub-adult Sooty Tern. The bird had not yet started it's moult and had extremely worn primary flight feathers. He believed the bird had been blown in by recent storms and was unable to make it back out to sea due to the poor state of it's wings, resulting in total exhaustion.

References: Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VII

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