When you are going to eastern Arabia in spring, you have good chances to see (and compare) 2 small terns of the genus Sternula. Sternula is a genus of small white terns, which is often subsumed into the larger genus Sterna. Saunder’s Tern, Sternula saundersi, was formerly considered to be subspecies of Little Tern but is now regarded a valid species besides the Little Tern, Sternula albifrons. Both species are never easy to separate in identification.
This very interesting article Birds of India: Identification of Sternula Terns in Asia/Africa might give some advice!
Here some more pictures for those birders who visit the Emirates or Oman.
In the Emirates (UAE) the Little Tern is – according to the ANNOTATED CHECKLIST of the birds of the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES by Tommy Pedersen & Simon Aspinall – a common passage migrant from March to May whereas Saunders’s Tern is a common breeding visitor and passage migrant which can be seen/ photographed well along the eastern coast around Khor Kalba, on e.g. a pelagic trip off Khor Kalba. Tommy Pedersen & Simon Aspinall mention, that it is difficult to separate Saunders’s Tern from Little Tern unless the wings are photographed.
Other distinctive features which are described e.g. in „Birds of the Middle East“ by Porter, Christensen and Schiermacker-Hansen are the rump/back color and the extent of the white color in the forehead. Whereas image 1 give proof to this statement because it shows that rump and back are concolorous grey, the 2nd image show how careful you must be to use the white forehead as a identification aid. The white color in images 2 does not extend to rear eye but the bird is a Little Tern for sure, as the picture was shot in Romania in May 2012.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice images you find in the gallery are only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.
Other successful shootings you can see under: http://www.bird-lens.com/zencardshop/.