Monday, August 1, 2011


Morro Strand State Beach. The sea was azure, swells gentle, and the sun warming. My birding/photographer friend Mike, and I were looking for Terns, in particular the Royal Tern. I usually have difficulty identifying Terns (above photo). The Royal Tern and the Caspian Tern are nearly the same size. The Royal has a bright orange red bill (can vary). The Caspian has a dark red bill (mostly). How does one tell the difference? There is also the smaller Elegant Tern that has a more slender pointier, red to orange bill. And then there are the immature and sub adults. I have spent hours pondering over the Terns without coming to a firm conclusion. This year I am determined to become an expert in Tern identification.

No pondering today, as there was not a Tern to be seen. We did see large flocks of Heermann's Gull and numerous Whimbrel (photo). Long-billed Curlew were abundant, and there were a few Godwits. Killdeer, Black Phoebe, Mallard and a Pied-billed Grebe were in and around the lagoon on the south side of the Morro Strand Campground.

This weekend I will conduct a more thorough search for the Royal Tern.

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