Thursday, July 25

Rarity alert...

Around 06:15-20 while scanning the area of ​​the border buoys my eyes fell on a big and dark tern which sat on the southern most buoy’. At first I thought it was a Bridled Tern as for the last three days I’ve observed 4 - 9 individuals each morning fly around the bay, but after a few seconds 3 Bridled Terns landed next and immediately I could distinguish it and call it a Sooty Tern. The differences in colour (Sooty's darker back mantle and nape) and the difference in size (about 15% bigger from the 3 Bridled which just arrived) were all very clear!

After a long minute, in which I could study the differences in size and colour, all four terns took off aiming south. This allowed me an even better comparison of the differences in size and colour as well as noticing the great under wing contrast which is striking. The black trailing edge is becoming black under primaries rather than the whitish under primaries of Bridled. In flight this gave a very strong contrasting under-wing pattern.

The flight seemed to be heavier than the accompanied Bridled and also the tail seemed longer with a deeper fork (but this may have been a function of the size difference).

I’ve watched them for a minute or so till they disappeared in the south and approx’ 10 minutes later, I’ve found them again flying at sea and once again the contrasting under-wing was particularly noticeable as well as the size.

I have seen both species along the East African coastline before and today I’ve managed to see all the relevant identification signs apart from the white forehead and black eyestripe which I could not see due to distance and the dark under-tail which is diagnostic for Sooty.
If accepted (and I don't see a reason why not) it would be the 5th ever Israel record and my 1st in Israel.

Later this morning, another big tern landed on the same line and immediately identified as Lesser Crested Tern!
Throughout the morning about 9 White-cheeked Terns flew around (all adults and one juv’) as well as 7-8 Little Terns. Also present was a 2nd cal Parasitic Skua and Slender-billed and White-eyed Gulls.

This is how it looked on my Facebook...

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