Last time we were out here I managed to add a recent ‘split’ to my Aussie & Hunter list – Australian Gull-billed Tern, having been separated from Common Gull-billed Tern (Birdlife International). Yesterday we made our first visit to Stockton Sand-spit, in search of some waders. Although a number of the speciality waders were absent we still managed to add seven to the list. In amongst the godwit flock – mostly Bar-tailed with a few Black-tailed – were two terns. Turned out (pardon the pun) that they were one of each of the Gull-billed variety, with all of the distinguishing features being readily observable at close range. The Australian version being larger, paler backed, with distinct ‘highway-mans’ mask and symmetrical upper and lower mandible profile. Actually they look like two different birds!
Two shots, showing the open wing – first of the Australian, second the Common (which is an annual rarity in the Hunter)