The Least Tern chicks are becoming aware of everything going on around them.
And for that matter, under them as well.
I can feel the earth, move…
Under my feet.
(Carole King)(Least Tern chicklet)
One of THE most fascinating things about watching birds during the breeding season… is to see the coloring and feathering of the chicks as they become more and more like their parents.
Like with our new crop of Least Tern chicks…
Watching the feathers slowly morph from “baby” to “adult” has been fascinating, an artist’s dream in color and texture.
And there’s a palpable electricity in the air, as the adults and chicks soar through the air together…
With lessons being learned about just how you dip and dive for your own dinner now! 😉
Sometimes I think even the chicks themselves sense that something new and momentous is happening in their lives, too.
This summer has been really different for me – documenting a Piping Plover family, then an Osprey family with the camera.
Such new experiences, rewarding beyond words to describe.
In any case, I guess I hadn’t realized just how much time had passed since I’d checked in on the Least Terns down at Red River.
And when I arrived at the creek, the sky was filled with newly fledged tern young ‘uns and their prouder-than-proud parents, woo HOO!!
Scooting down on the tidal flats, I watched the chicks being fed by their parents.
Some of the chicks must have worked up quite an appetite with their new flight maneuvers, for they sure were hungry for those tiny fish to make it into their mouths – and as FAST as possible!!
The tireless parents, flying out over the water and back again, kept bringing them more, and more…
I smiled when I thought about how I almost hadn’t gone to the beach this morning, what with the gray skies overhead and the crowds that I knew would soon be gathering.
But the joy of watching the interactions between these proud terns and their kids sure filled my world with more than a little sunshine.
I love watching the tiny Least Terns during their courtship rituals as they hover over the water.
Then quickly DIVE for tiny fish to bring to their mates who wait for them onshore.
Their movements are quick, often changing on a dime.
Someday I’ll have the camera that captures these amazing moments but for now…
So I’m going out on a limb sharing these next photos of the diving terns with you.
I hope you can feel the incredible drama of this amazing fishing drama!
I simply HAD to share them, because…
It’s amazing what these birds DO!! ❤
It was blissfully quiet as I headed up Forest Beach early this morning.
Just me and the ospreys out at the far nest, who by the way have a very full house for the summer.
And the same Willet I’ve been noticing in the dunes who sure looks all the world like he’s guarding a nest somewhere close by.
Least Terns, clearly still very much engaged in their courtship rituals…
Which always seemed to include the offering of tiny fish!
But regardless, they all seemed to be having a good time, and the air was filled with their conversations — and WINGS! 😉
As I walked back down the beach, I couldn’t help remembering that years ago I was a typical sun worshipping Cape Cod girl.
But thanks to this tiny camera of mine, I have discovered a whole new reason to slather on the sunscreen and bug spray — and hit the beaches once again.
It sure feels good to be back. 😉
So many of my new bird discoveries seem to happen when I am searching for something else.
About two weeks back, I was scanning the beach for the Piping Plover chicks down at Red River Beach.
Stretching my legs after a long squat, I noticed up the shore a small group of terns had come in for a landing.
Our smallest terns, the Leasts measure only about 8 or 9 inches and have yellow bills and legs as compared to the Common Terns that measure 12-15 inches and have red bills and legs (and differently shaped black face masks).
But I had never seen one up close before.
One pair that was nearest to me, didn’t seem to mind me staring.
In fact, they appeared to be oblivious to any of the other birds and luckily, to me.
Now terns are famous for their aerial and vocal displays during courtship.
This pair was engaged in the loveliest series of movements that I could only describe as a “dance”.
With yoga-like movements and poses, the male was slowly orbiting around his mate who held the center of an invisible circle.
Sometimes she would move as well, and both would strike a pose that was not only beautiful in its symmetry…
But also appeared to be attracting a crowd… 😉
Just then and without any warning the male flew off, winging away out over the water!
Leaving his Lady Love alone on the beach gazing after him, looking more than a bit bewildered.
Was it something I said?
Yet before too long he was back.
And this time, with a delicious sushi picnic!
Feeling that it was time to give them their privacy, I couldn’t help thinking that just weeks ago it seemed my summer was going to be all about the plovers.
Now the terns have joined the mix.