I was heading to the beach on the Gandy causeway early one morning looking for a new bird. A gull billed tern had been spotted there for several days. I parked and walked along the sand closely looking at every gull or tern. Was the above the new bird? I couldn’t tell when they were preening but when they stopped I saw that yellow tip on their beaks and knew they were just sandwich terns.
I know this little cutie is a black bellied plover.
Also not the bird I was looking for. This was a juvenile least tern.
A least tern out taking a bath.
The laughing gull is easy to spot. He was taking a bath in a puddle on the beach.
It’s past nesting season for least terns but these guys were trying to get the other tern to take the fish. The lady in the bottom was not interested.
Another least tern chasing after an adult with a fish.
I did not find the gull billed tern. I was a day late. But it was still a beautiful morning. The sun was coming up high towards Tampa and it was time to head home.
Looking towards the gulf the storms were starting to move inland.
“I said stop ignoring me and get me some fish or I’ll throw a big tantrum.”
“Oh brother, are they flirting?” says the juvenile sandwich tern in the back.
“We are family!”
“Make room for me!”
“Dad, mom said for me to tell you to go get me some fish.”
“Please!!!” says the juvenile on the right.
“Can we get some peace and quiet around here?”
“Here comes a dog. We’re outta here.”
The beach wasn’t covered with shorebirds since it was sunny when I got to Gandy beach after work. There was still a few people out walking around and swimming. I did manage to see a small flock of sandwich terns hanging out together. They were busy preening and bathing and wasn’t paying much attention to me sitting in the car. You would think a lot of drama was going on by the way they were yelling at each other. There were a few baby terns from this spring but now they are as big as the adults. Their beaks and legs aren’t as black as the adults yet. They can fly but I think they are still being fed by the parents. Soon, most of them will be gone heading south with the other migraters.
I had heard there were hundreds of black terns on Gandy beach in early August. By the time I made it over there in late August, there were only a handful still hanging around. Most had lost their all black feathers and were molting into some form of mix of black and white. The above was already in his winter feathers.
You don’t realize how small they are until you see them next to a royal tern. Both little ones on the left and right are black terns in the middle of molting.
Something spooked them and off they went. They circled around and came back to the beach.
Was he showing off or clowning around?
Bye bye. Down below is the reason the terns took off. This time they flew far away to the roped off area at the end of the beach.
This guy thought it was funny to have his dog chasing after the birds. Since they were in the main beach area I didn’t say anything. All of the birds flew over to the sanctuary. I took these from the car. Although it was sunny here on this side of the beach, across the street were dark clouds and I could see lightning headed this way. I was disappointed there was no rainbow.
I couldn’t blame the dog for wanting to run around and have fun. He was cute.
Looking down towards the utility tower. The yellow on the left was a concrete wall so people couldn’t drive past that spot. There are also big signs that say keep out, bird sanctuary but many people don’t pay attention.
I stopped off at the beach on the way home from work to see if any black terns were still there. They migrate through in late summer and stay for a while. It started out sunny when I left work but right after I got to the beach, a nasty storm was heading for me quickly. I snapped a handful of pictures and left.