The wildlife on Macca continues to amaze us! This week we had a very unusual sighting of a tropical seabird — the sooty tern. Two unusual terns were spotted flying over station on the night of 6 June but it was too misty to get a good enough look for identification of species. The following morning Ali, the senior Met observer, found a sooty tern on the road that runs past the buildings where weather observations are collected. Wildlife ranger Marcus approached the bird to identify the species, assess its health and move it out of harm’s way. The bird looked healthy but exhausted. Marcus moved the bird into the lee of a building and among the protection of some tussock. Sadly it didn’t make it through the night.
The next morning a second sooty tern was observed on the ground just behind the mess building. This individual seemed to have a small injury on its left wing but managed to fly away. We have not seen this individual again.
The sooty tern is a tropical species that is rarely seen south of New South Wales, Australia. We suspect these sooty terns were blown very far south of their range during a large storm that moved down the east coast of Australia in early June. Around the same time, a sighting of a sooty tern was also reported in Tasmania. These sightings have been reported to Bird Life Tasmania and will be published in the next Tasmanian Bird Report.
Wonder what will ‘tern’ up on Macca next week!