ABA Mega-rarity – WHITE-WINGED TERN!

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Having seen the Rare Bird Alert for a White-winged Tern in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania yesterday morning, the only thing to figure out was, when to go? This morning, Lance Verderame and I headed west through New York and south into Pennsylvania to a small lake where the bird has been being seen. It was great to see an abundance of birders already viewing the bird!  We immediately ran into friends Ken and Curt McDermott, already there viewing the bird. We spent the next two hours viewing this bird as it preened, flew around the lake, caught a fish and rested on the pilings. What a gorgeous bird!  A lifer for both Lance and I (Ken and Curt too!).  I think my biggest surprise about this species was the fact that it didn’t look like a Black Tern.  I had always thought that the bird would just look like a Black Tern with white wings, but it was really very different.  White wings, white tail, vent and rump and jet black breast and body made it really stand out!  The bird is noticebly chunkier than a Black Tern and the bill is shorter and more stout. This is the first time in my twenty five years of birding that I have had to opportunity to chase this rare vagrant from Eurasia. Hopefully, the bird will continue and entertain the many birders who will surely be coming to see this fabulous bird.  I can’t say how many birders were there today, but I don’t think there were any less than 25 at any given time, and there was a continuous overturn of birders coming and going.  If you get the chance, head over to central Pennsylvania and see this great bird! Nice to see Andy and Jen too!

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I’m not too good at getting flight shots, but this one isn’t too bad. Note the black underwing coverts and the nearly white underwing primaries  (shot Is actually shadowed by bright sun). Black Tern has completely pale gray underwing coverts,  primaries and secondaries. The tail, vent and rump are stark white.

 

 

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2 Responses to ABA Mega-rarity – WHITE-WINGED TERN!

  1. Ken McDermott says:

    John,

    I was VERY pleased to see you and Lance pull into the big parking area yesterday at the White-winged Tern and delighted to tell you that it was still there. LOVE your shots of it and your flight shot shows just how spectacular the bird really is. Like you I wondered IF the bird would look much different from a Black Tern OMG the differences were amazing. There is NO confusion whatsoever and this bird in the air is sensational!

    Great bird, great company and a really great lifer. Congrats again.

    • Ken,
      I too was so pleased to see you and Curt there yesterday! It’s really amazing how many great lifers we’ve had the chance to share together. This one just seemed to be so amazing to me. I can’t wait until we get to do it again! John

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