possible Arctic Tern at Crowley, immature Sabine's Gull at Rush Delta

Observers: Justin Hite
Email: justinhite@gmail.com
Verification: sierra
Remote Name: 65.241.2.253
Date: 09/23/2006
Time: 10:03 PM -0400

Sighting

As a dedicated Monophile (meaning one who loves Mono Lake very much) it took a lot to put aside my jokingly-conceived philosophy that 'real men don't bird fake lakes', but the temptation of finally seeing Crowley Lake Reservoir in September on Free Fishing Day was too much. I didnít know a Trumpeter Swan would be there, and was pretty excited to see it. There were also two Common Terns along the northeaster shore (about halfway between Layton Springs and where the Owen's flows into Crowley), one adult and one immature, fishing with the fisherman and pelicans. There was a third tern that I think might have been a winter-plumage adult Arctic Tern. Iíve never identified an Arctic Tern on my own, but it seemed to fit with the field marks in Sibleyís and the Natíl Geographic books. It had very thin black tailing edges at the ends of the wings, uniformly pale upper wings with no dark feathering on the upper surface of the shoulders (which both Common Terns had), and itís head and neck did seem shorter/stubbier than the COTEs. Also, it very clearly had the scruffy black band around the back of the head with white on the top of the head that distinguishes winter plumage Commons and Arctics from Forsterís. Also, Iíve heard that the primaries of Arctic Terns are supposed to be translucent, and Iíve never really been sure what people meant by that, but the thing that struck me first about this Tern was that its primaries did indeed seem to be translucent. So, I donít know. Maybe itís a relatively pale Common Tern, but maybe itís an Arctic. I wish I had more experience with them, and I wish Iíd had my camera with me. How often are Arctic Terns seen at Crowley? Back in the basin later in the day I stopped by the Rush Creek delta, and a saw an immature Sabineís Gull with a few thousand bathing and loafing California Gulls. The two adults that were at the delta on September 18th and 19th are gone. This makes at least four Sabineís at the Rush delta this month.