Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tern Time + Worrying About Herons

 [This lovely creature is a juvenile Common Tern, near the mixed tern/skimmer colony at Malibu Beach, near Longport. The beautiful browns of juv terns are soon lost to wear. This bird has barely 10 miles on it, I'd guess, as of Thursday night when I photographed it following its parents begging for a meal. Wintering as far south as Argentina, it'll log enough miles to need an oil change soon ;>).]

Terns by the hundreds are piling into Cape May, or so I hear - Tony Leukering tells me over 700, with birds going in and out so who knows how many are really there. Check the beach and Bunker Pond. Multiple Sandwich Terns were among them today. Most of the tern colonies are finishing up, so watch for juveniles following adults begging for food. Forster's Terns mostly nest on wrack in salt marsh, Commons also nest on the marsh but prefer undisturbed sandy beach if they can find it, no mean feat in NJ.

 [This Common Loon has summered near Longport. Described as unable to walk. . .which is normal, because loons can't walk, their legs set so far back that they must scoot and slide onto their nests, and seldom come onto land otherwise. For swimming, such leg position is ideal. But coming onto land when not nesting is unusual. Whether this bird is sick, oiled, or just a juvenile acting its age, we know not. Note the Semipalmated Plovers in the background.]

[A couple Tri-colored Herons (leftmost, on the marsh, and left-center, perched in the phragmites) with a bunch of egrets near the rookery at Cowpens Island on Thursday. I'm quietly worried about herons - this photo was taken on a boat trip that in years past yielded as many as 40 Yellow-crowned Night-herons, but this time we saw only about 5. The traditional heron rookery west of Sunset Lake in Wildwood held essentially no birds this year. Herons are high on the food chain, and should be watched - if their numbers fall, something bigger could be at play. We did record at leat 200 Great Egrets and 50 Snowies on Thursday, as well as 15 Tri-colored Herons, for a spectacular trip in the rich Great Egg Harbor Bay.]

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