I opened the Cornell Bird site for help in identifying the species of Tern I’ve been photographing for a few years. I suspected there were several. I thought maybe a dozen or a few more but I had no idea there are over 100. I wrote a blog on them a few years ago identifying them as “Arctic Terns and I’m going to re-identify them as “Common Terns. This is a much better match.
I copied this picture from Google images, I no longer do that except in cases such as this. Pictured in the image above is an Arctic Tern a very close match to the Common.
This is an Image I took quite a while ago the main difference I can see is the wing tip on this one is filled in black on the underside. The skull cap and red beak match; although this is a common Tern they are very similar to the breeding Arctic Tern but I feel I’m well grounded with identifying them as Common Terns. They live for decades not breeding until they are 3-4 years old: the oldest Tern lived 34 years.
Common Terns are native to North America migrating as far as to Argentina and Chile during the winter. However many choose to remain in the Southern States of the U.S. and Northern Mexico.
Most Tern chicks are grey or brown often both colors are included in the same nest. They are in the air flying constantly dipping their beaks to take a drink of water on the wing. They are diving birds, often seen hovering 20 feet or more above the water then suddenly diving straight into the waters surface. After hitting the water they immediately regain flight with a few beats of their wings.
They spend so much time in the air it’s difficult to photograph them in a perching position. I have never seen one on a perch nor do I have any idea where they nest. But that doesn’t restrict their numbers on the slough as there are always a few flying over. They are fairly easy to take an image of while flying, as a matter of fact I used them for practicing photographing birds in flight.
A bit more on the Oak Fire; I have been referring to it as the Yosemite fire where it began then jumped the line off of the park now racing through the small towns in the foothills. It remains 10% contained, the fires in the mountains are terribly difficult to deal with. On our local Facebook page a photo of the fire was posted; it was taken across the Valley. That’s a distance of approximately 100 miles, don’t place a bet on that number. To be seen from this distance it has to be a towering inferno, most of the time we see smoke. With this fire we can see actual flames from this distance, it’s a huge fire. To make matters worse some Right Wing Militia group showed up to show the fire fighters how to do their job; exactly what they don’t need.
Jacque Lebec Natural Self Reliance