Sunday, July 21, 2013

Looking for One Thing and Finding Something(s) Else

 [Common Tern adult bringing an Atlantic Silverside to its juvenile offspring, Cape May Point State Park, NJ this morning.]

You check the tern flock and either the Roseate Tern is there or it's not, right? Not much you can do about it if it's not, except wait around, which is what I did this morning, but still to no avail. There's a lot of luck involved in this birding game. But you always get a bird when you go birding, maybe not the one you were looking for but that's still okay. If you let it be, which I gladly did this morning.

There were actually two tern flocks to check at Cape May Point State Park, NJ this morning, one consisting of entirely Forster's Terns on the railing near the outflow pipe of Bunker Pond, and one of almost all Common Terns with one Forster's and a few Leasts thrown in down on the beach. I've seen Forster's and Common segregate this way before, so if you think you're seeing all of only one species, maybe you are. Or maybe you're not, it reminds me of the one about if you can't spot the fool in the room, it's you. It's easy to doubt yourself with this pair. If you can't spot the Common among the Forster's, you're a fool?  Or maybe you're simply right.

Anyhow, I didn't spot a Roseate among the Common and the Forster's Terns at Cape May, but I did enjoy watching the juvenile Common Terns begging and occasionally being fed by their parents. These juv.'s could have come from some distance away, since the m.o. for terns is to lead their young away from the colony to good feeding grounds as soon as the young can fly well.

Interesting but not surprising after the little cold front that passed last night, there was some movement evident, in the form of about 4 Yellow Warblers and a single American Redstart that flew overhead in obvious "morning flight," and in a decent shorebird movement that included four Pectoral Sandpipers in a flock with yellowlegs, and some Short-billed Dowitchers. Oh yeah, and a flock of about 20 Glossy Ibis, glossies move early so that was fairly typical for late July.

[Feathers in uniform good condition and a scaly appearance are indicators of a juvenile bird in many species, including, in this case, Common Tern.]

 [This Common Tern had almost an entirely red bill, just a little dark on the culmen, but it's clearly not an Arctic Tern. Some might be tempted. . . which is why you use multiple field marks, like the thicker dark trailing edge to the primaries, more balanced (not front-heavy) look in flight, bill too long, primaries not translucent. . . ]

[Common Wood-nymphs are common, but I don't recall seeing one along the dunes at Cape May Point State Park before, which is where this one was.]

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