The title of the post makes it pretty obvious I didn't choose the frigatebird, but I will say I've seen great overhead images taken by two people who did go for it. I left Kyoto at midnight Thursday and with a 40 minute nap 'n' coffee break en route I rolled into Choshi just after 8:30am. It felt weird as an avid guller to be making my first visit to Choshi in mid-summer.
There were about five people present when I arrived so I jumped out with just my bins to ask if it was there. They told me it was but not in view at that moment so I went to get my camera from the van, 20 metres away, and by the time I returned it had flown in.
I was expecting the call to be critical but, though distinct at times, it wasn't as ear-catching as I'd imagined. I probably wouldn't have noticed a 'strange' call if I hadn't been listening for it. On the plus side, or the useful side I should say, the rump and tail were far more obvious than I'd realised and this bird would stand out even as a casual fly-by.
Though apparently there is overlap in size between Little and Least this bird is very small and I'm sure it will be outside the range of Little. The legs always looked shorter than those of the Little Terns present and though this is unreliable as an identification feature, it's quite handy for picking this bird out when terns are perched on a level surface. In short it was easy to pick out even at long range in flight because of the dark rump and tail and after a while it was easy to pick out at rest too because of its slight build and small size even though there weren't any reliable ID features to work with.
I don't have any shots of it in direct comparison with Little. The following image is the closest I got but it's even more interesting from the behaviour aspect. This was one of two occasions I saw it present a fish to a Little Tern. I don't know whether it was to the same Little Tern but let's hope the Littles have the sense to do no more than accept the offerings. As a postscript: I've heard the ringed Little Tern the Least associates with is known to be male, and judging by behaviour so is the Least. Presumably there aren't any unpaired females in the small colony.
|The Least flew in and has just handed over its hard earned fish, it isn't easy to see but the fish is now in the bill of a surprised Little Tern.|
Easy as it was to pick out because of the grey rump and tail but flight shots showing this weren't so easy to get.
|It had strikingly dark outer primaries as well as the grey rump.|
|The white outer tail feathers are clear in this shot.|
|Getting shots of the underparts was much easier but they don't help from an identification perspective.|