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Juvenile Roseate Tern?

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  • Juvenile Roseate Tern?

    After thinking I had a sound identification on a juvenile Roseate Tern at Lowestoft earlier this month, some doubts have been cast by another birder who commented on the post today.

    A few people have suggested that the bird may be a hybrid, and the bird certainly seems to be showing features of both species.

    Roseate Features:
    • Seemingly all dark bill
    • Dusky coloration to forehead
    • Clean white edge to inner primaries
    Common Features:
    • A thin black outer web to the outer tail feathers
    • Warm tones to upperparts
    • Seemingly strong carpel bar

    Any further comments would be greatly received.

    Full account with one picture of the juvenile is at -

    For the comments please scroll to the bottom of the post.

    Additional photos below:
    Click image for larger version

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    Many thanks,

    Last edited by Locostella_86; July 30th, 2012, 11:16 PM.

    America dictates the sale of democracy.
    A Brit amongst Irishman and a Irishman amongst Brits.

  • #2
    Interesting bird. On first glance it could be written off as a Common. However, given the caveats of id from photos etc, it does show features of both species as described above. In addition to those features listed, the legs are pale (pro-Common) while the upperwing looks rather pale (pro-Roseate, Perhaps the three birds in the pic (Roseate, Common and hybrid? young) are a family unit. I believe a hybrid has also been suggested by Roy Tringbirder on BF? They are not unknown and there are a fair few refs to them in literature and online.

    OBC John Peel Awesomeness
    The little things they make me so happy, all I want to do is live by the sea...


    • #3
      Thanks Forktail,

      Most helpful as usual.



      America dictates the sale of democracy.
      A Brit amongst Irishman and a Irishman amongst Brits.


      • #4
        I saw the bird in question and discussed it at great length with Dave Holman and others when sent some photographs of it later in the evening. Both Dave and I only saw one of the two adult Roseate Terns that were being seen on the groynes just south of the North Links car park, although up to four adults and this single juvenile were also being reported. I did not consider this odd bird to be a juvenile Roseate as there were several anomalies in plumage but Dave suggested the possibility of it being a hybrid Common x Roseate Tern which seemed a plausible explanation. I then sent a myriad of images taken that day of the Lowestoft terns to Killian in Ireland and it was interesting that he too felt that the juvenile was most likely a hybrid. The adult Roseate Tern that I saw there was multi-ringed, perhaps indicating a Coquet Island origin. Does anybody know of a colony where mixed breeding of Roseate and Common Tern has occurred?


        • #5
          Each of the last to RBBP reports (BB 105 p. 394, 104 p. 520) mentions two mixed prs, Lancs & N Mersey and Anglesey, with young successfully fledging from the former site in 2010 and hatching at least at latter site in 2009. Have not checked back in earlier reports but presumably not an unusual phenomenon at the edge of range with extremely low densities of Roseate...
          Last edited by welchs; August 20th, 2012, 08:18 AM.