Sunday, 22 May 2011

longipennis Common Tern at Minsmere?

On the 14th May Sean Nixon photographed a very interesting Common Tern on south scrape at Minsmere. This bird has a suit of features that are good for longipennis race, which is an eastern race found from N.E Siberia to N.E China. In this race the underparts are much darker, similar to those found on Arctic Tern, the bill is all dark with no or only a slight redness at the base, and the legs are typically dark.

Longipennis? Common Tern    

The above picture of Sean's shows the dark bill, dark legs and darker underparts. Indeed the dark underparts are reminiscent of those exhibited by Aleutian and White-cheeked Tern and do indeed highlight the cheek area, the flight shot below highlights this feature even more.

Longipennis? Common Tern - Minsmere
The Minsere bird does look good for this race but I do wonder if the underparts are dark enough. Some more photos of this race can be found at the following links




A similar bird was present on and off last year so could this bird be the same individual? A review of the features of this race would be benifical and may shed some more light on to the history of this race in the U.K.

Thank you to Sean for permission to reproduce these photos and well done for being sharp eyed.

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