More from Bill Reeves on the Sterna Tern he observed Sunday at Lake
Wappapello (Wayne Co.)


At 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, 9/14, I located a possible juvenile Royal Tern at
Lake Wappapello in Wayne County. The bird was found in a group of 3-4
Caspian Terns and
2-3 Forster's Terns. Observations include yellow bill, dingy/buffy upper
body and wings,
no black wingtips on underside of wings, and distinctly more slender wings
than Caspian.
Nearby Caspians all had larger, red-orange bill, clean pale-gray upper body
parts and black underside of wingtips. My visual ID was not entirely
conclusive, partly because: (1). I observed only a small area of white at
the base of the upper mandible not a distinct white "forehead';
(2). Although I was in good light and clearly noted the red-orange bills of
nearby Caspians, I thought the yellow bill may not be diagnostic, on the
assumption light angles could distort the 
degree of orange or yellow from my position; and (3).The wingspan of this
bird gave the appearance of being nearly the same as the Caspians, instead
of being some 8-10" shorter
(according to Sibley). HOWEVER, while on my way back home from the Lake, I
plugged in
Peterson's calls of Eastern Birds; lo and behold, the calls of this
"oddball" were not only wholly unlike either the low-pitched raspy calls or
high-pitched squeals of the Caspians, but instead sounded like a dead ringer
for the recorded calls of a Royal Tern.  Chris Barrigar arrived later this
afternoon, but could not get close to the birds. While I am sure this bird
needs more invesgiation, it should definitely be checked out by other

DIRECTIONS: the group of terns were initially seen from afar at Eagle Point
overlook on the SE side of the Wappapello Dam, on Hwy "T". They were hanging
out on the NW, upper side of the lake, perhaps a mile or more distant. Light
is poor from Eagle Point, especially in the afternoon. My close-up look
(when the terns came down to the dam area to feed) was from the parking lot
immediately SW of the dam, just below the Corps of Engineers HQ.  When
heading west across the dam, skip the first driveway/parking area; take the
2nd right and weave through the parking area to the overlook just above the

Forwarded for Bill Reeves

Joshua Uffman
St. Louis County, MO
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