1st Summer Arctic Tern - Cupsogue Beach County Park



I came across another Arctic Tern on 6/5/13, at Cupsogue Beach County Park. A 1st Summer type individual that put on quite a show and I watched intently. I first noted the bird sitting along the edge of a large group of Common Terns. Also in the mix were a few Forster’s and Roseate Terns. The Arctic Tern exhibited uniform grey primaries, as they always do and this was one of the first major keys that tipped me off on the bird. This, along with a more rounded head shape, extensive black on cap dipping beneath the birds eye, and seemingly shorter black bill pointed directly Arctic Tern. The bird was standing on a firm surface of sand, therefore the short leg length was obvious and apparent. After about 15 minutes of viewing, the bird took off toward the east marsh, showed off its wing pattern and lent a few squeaky call notes. The bird took a 5 minute hiatus, returned to the flats, and decided to land within 20 feet of me! The tern continued to loaf and preen for quite a while before it finally took to the sea. Safe journeys little buddy! The following photographs are accompanied by brief descriptions in what to look for when attempting to identify these tricky terns. 



1st Summer Arctic Tern - Cupsogue Beach C.P., 6/5/13 - Note pale gray primaries, extensive
dark on head surrounding and dipping beneath eye, seemingly shorter bill and short legged.
Overall head shape still round. Image taken with an iPhone and Meopix Adapter through
a Meostar S2 Spotting Scope by Meopta Sports Optics. 

1st Summer Arctic Tern - Cupsogue Beach C.P., 6/5/13 - This shot, again, showing the
pale gray primaries in better light. Image taken with an iPhone and Meopix 
Adapter through a Meostar S2 Spotting Scope by Meopta Sports Optics. 

1st Summer Arctic Tern - Cupsogue Beach C.P., 6/5/13 - In flight, note
thin black trailing edge along outer primaries. This feature can be seen among
all ages of Arctic Tern and is perhaps one of the better diagnostic field
marks when seen well. Upper wings uniform gray. Image taken
with an iPhone and Meopix Adapter through a Meostar S2
 Spotting Scope by Meopta Sports Optics.

1st Summer Arctic Tern - Cupsogue Beach C.P., 6/5/13 - Note the grey toned vein that runs along the outer tail feathers on either side of the tail. Just like the thin, black trailing edge to the outer primaries, this characteristic is shown through all ages of Arctic Tern. The rest of the tail is primarily white. The birds shorter legs are quite apparent in this photo. Image taken with an iPhone and Meopix Adapter through a Meostar S2 Spotting Scope by Meopta Sports Optics.

1st Summer Arctic Tern - Cupsogue Beach C.P., 6/5/13 - Another shot of a preening 1st Summer Arctic Tern showing
the pattern of its tail. Again, single grey outer vein running along outer tail feathers. Image taken with an iPhone and Meopix Adapter through a Meostar S2 Spotting Scope by Meopta Sports Optics. 

1st Summer Arctic Tern - Cupsogue Beach C.P., 6/5/13 - Nothing like a nice spread wing shot. Here showing both the
underwing and upperwing pattern. Note the 8 primaries on left wing as it reveals underwing pattern. Each feather is tipped with black along the outer edge. Upperwing (right wing for the purpose of this photo) showing a relatively uniform gray throughout. Again, you can note the tail pattern with that gray outer vein running along the outer tail feathers. Image taken with an iPhone and Meopix Adapter through a Meostar S2 Spotting Scope by Meopta Sports Optics. 

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