Friday, May 11, 2012

One Good Tern

So, while everyone else has been driving the one hour (or more) to Northwest Ohio for their spring birding, I have been staying a bit closer to home as of late. That is not to say I won't be taking a road trip or two in the next six weeks.  But for now, staying close is just fine in my book.  

In the meantime, much of my birding has been at Lake Erie Metropark.  Walks in the order of three or four miles have been quite productive.  Flickers are nesting.   So are the Grosbeaks.  A few days back, I managed to hear the calling Pileated Woodpecker that was observed by Natalie.  It was my 251st park bird and only the second park record in....forever.  

19 warbler species have been tallied so far, too. Sure, one can score 19 species in Ohio in 30 minutes, but I also not getting elbowed and prodded by the masses.  For the most part, I have had them all to myself. For the record, the Bay-breasted Warbler is one of the most under-rated warblers in North America.  A complete stunner, if you ask me.

With so many people in these parts are thinking "songbird" in the month of May, a brief visit to the Lake Erie shoreline is always a good idea.

Take this Forster's Tern, for example.  

First, note the actual name. It is NOT a "Forester's Tern".  "Forster", not "Forester" (that is a Webelos Badge).  It amazes me how many people who screw that up. 

Named after Johann Reinhold Forster, a naturalist who accompanied Captain Cook on his second Pacific voyage, this bird is not hard to see along the coastal waters of the park.  But don't let that fool you.  Like so many other species in the Midwest, numbers are slipping as a result of habitat loss.  Wisconsin and Illinois list it as "Endangered". Michigan lists the species as "Threatened" but you wouldn't know it from local observations. They seem quite common. But statewide? That's a different story...

Having one feeding within 35 feet of you?  You cant beat that.  With an almost "floating" quality to their flight (unlike the lumbering but smooth wing beats of their the larger cousins, the gulls), these dainty terns pack quite a wallop.  Any minnow or other tiny fish that dares to come too close to the surface of the water could easily get snatched with that fancy looking orange/red bill.  No chewing.  No tearing. Just a drop, a grab and a swallow.  I watched him do it for 20 minutes right in front me.  I might as well have been a ghost as it paid no attention to me whatsoever.  

I would be remiss if I left out another small detail. At one point, a second bird joined the first.  Any knowledgeable birder or master punster knows why.  

Do I have to say it?

One good tern deserves another.....


dave boon said...

Like this Blog!I think you are getting better at this!

Paul Cypher said...

Thanks for the kind words! If I may ask, which parts are getting better? The writing, the photos, or my ability to bamboozle my six readers with recycled puns? :)

dave boon said...

The Writing was very good,an interesting story well put together.Your photos are always really excellent.

Paul Cypher said...

Wow! Thanks for the kind words. The check is in the mail .... ;)

dave boon said...

dont you mean Cheque?

Paul Cypher said...

Oooh! "Check" and "cheque" with a tern/turn pun. Well played!

Don't you love the English language? Such fun.

Check. Cheque.
Knight. Night.
Two. Too. To.
Snot. Conservative Republican.

I could go on all night!