Prince Caspian and the Royals! What ever could this blog entry be about??! Terns of course!! It didn’t look like I would have the opportunity to go birding, but I was able to slice out a little time in the afternoon to get out for a bit! I was hoping to bird along a dune fence-line at the beach parking lot looking for migrating sparrows. However a Merlin Falcon patrolling the grounds prompted hitting the actual beach instead. I feared I could disturb the sparrows if I walked by, possibly flushing one out that could be targeted by the Merlin. It wasn’t worth the risk. So I backtracked and hit the sand.
The events that took place next made this one of my favorite birding days ever!! Hardly stepping on to the beach I heard a distinct call that I knew was Tern, A royal Tern?? It didn’t seem quite right! Looking through the binoculars I was pleased to spot four Royal Terns loafing on the beach. Not a typical occurrence around here and they are not always appreciative of human presence so it was very exciting to see these large and interesting Terns. I find them so fun! Grandpa Munster’s name has come up in describing the appearance of a Royal Tern.
Satisfied enough to passively match the call with the assumed bird I was shocked when looking just a few feet to the right there was another large tern. A Tern with a really big red stocky beak! Caspian Tern! Two in fact! This was the bird I had heard call! Putting this sighting over the top was this was a parent tern traveling with one of its young. A hatch year Caspian Tern! I had never seen a hatch year Caspian Tern before! As it is, maybe I see one Caspian Tern a year! I couldn’t believe my eyes!
The Caspian Terns flew after a few moments, heading west. I did manage to capture a little video of this adorable connection between parent and juvenile. Click here to watch! < caspiantwo >
I walked on stumbling on this little peep, A Sanderling. It seemed a little disappointed I spotted it hiding among the sand.
The four originally seen Royal Terns somehow swelled to at least 10 and it was just me, alone on the beach with this Motley Crew!
I just love Terns, especially the “oddball” ones, not oddball as in weird or looking like Grandpa Munster or anything, but as in the less seen species! I adore Royal Terns and usually I see them from a distance or they fly away pretty quickly. But not today! Nope, today was just me and a group of outgoing Royal Terns that knew I was just a buddy hangin’ out! One landed close by me:
I didn’t get too greedy with the zoom at first figuring this moment wouldn’t last long. But, I needn’t have worried as this friend hung out with me for awhile! It was an overcast day, with a chilly wind so I did the best I could with my camera that the light would allow!
An especially interesting moment with the Royal Terns was when a parent handed off a pretty large fish to one of the yellow billed youngsters in the ocean. Excited to be fed but struggling to swallow the big fish right away it started to fly as the gulls figured out very quickly it had something. In flight, panicked, and now with a large entourage the Tern was able to get the fish down the hatch and you could see it’s body language change instantly. I noticed, as did the gulls who promptly knew there was nothing to give chase for and tailed off. It was kinda funny to see how quickly the young Royal Tern went from a panicked chase to a victorious, almost defiant celebration.
As the birds hung around doing their thing I eventually walked around the flock of Royals so the sun would be behind me in the event that it actually would come out! That didn’t happen, the clouds were so low not even a setting sunset light was available. I stayed a long time hoping the sun may dip below the clouds, but to no avail. The best thing about staying that long and kinda freezing my butt off was the birds got very used to me and I eventually had quite a few very close to me! I had a field day taking many pictures! Here’s video of some juvenile Royal Terns waiting to be fed < lilroyalz
Just seeing a Caspian Tern, let alone a Juvenile was enough to make this day great. Hangin’ out with all these Royal Terns was enough to make the day great on its own. Getting to enjoy both, well..that’s just kinda ridiculous! Along with the many gulls that were full of character were a small flock of Sanderlings and a few lingering Black Skimmers. I even had a Peregrine Falcon come in at the speed of sound in a full stoop, wings fastened to it’s sides as it powerfully shot onto the scene like a missile. Apparently the birds had noticed it on its way in and took flight accordingly. The Falcon must have still been content enough as far as what was in it’s belly as when that initial approach failed it changed it’s vibe quickly and flew off somewhat harmless looking.
The Black skimmers had some young hatch year birds with them as well!! Such cute birds!
Here’s a little video of the Black Skimmer youngster < skimmerone >
I hope you have some great birdy experiences in store for you too!!! As always, Thank you for reading!