A Tarānui (Caspian Tern) flying overhead, looking down for fish.


One of the earliest seabirds I learned to identify, apart from the common gulls, was the Tarānui, or Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) as I knew it.

This photo shows the key recognition traits well — dark cap, large, bright red-orange bill, and the characteristic head pointing down, looking for a feed. Though they are often seen alone, I saw three pass me by on this visit to Motukaraka Point, on the Pāuatahanui Inlet.

The species is classed as uncommon, but I’ve seen my share, as they are easy to spot, even from a distance, due to their obvious tern-like appearance and size larger than most common terns; nearly the size of a Black-backed Gull.



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