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Classed as endangered, this beautiful small to medium sized New Zealand marsh tern is 28cm long and weighs about 95gm. Mostly a soft blue-grey plumage with pale to white vent and rump. The Latin name is thought to come from the white stripe along the cheek and nape. The head cap is black, encompassing the eye and the bill and legs are bright orange. The tail is considerably shorter than the wings when at rest.
Found here in the Bay of Plenty, on the North Island of New Zealand where small numbers spend the winter. They breed in the braided rivers of the South Island and are an endemic species to New Zealand. I found five individuals at Thornton Beach at the river mouth associating with the bigger White-fronted Tern (Sterna striata).
The news for this Beautiful little bird is not great. In 2016 the species was reassessed as being endangered with the outlook bleak as numbers continue to fall. As they only breed on braided river systems the pressure from hydro/irrigation projects, leisure use and predator issues continue to take their toll.