Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Adventures & Observations

My birding blog site


  Erie County Forster's Tern

Published: September 14, 2018
Tags: General Observations, forster's tern, common tern, bonaparte's gull, great black-backed gull, solitary sandpiper

A Forster's Tern is a rare visitor to Western New York and I've been hoping to see one in Erie County for years.  Yesterday, Joe Fell reported one flying near La Salle Park - seen from the river as he and his students were on a boating field trip.  Myself and a few other birders tried to find his tern but we didn't have any luck.

After birding a few other places and enjoying some warblers and a Solitary Sandpiper, I decided to stop by Hamburg Beach on the way home.  Incidentally, I had been there only two days earlier looking for a Forster's Tern.  Today, though, I felt there was a much stronger chance that one might be sitting there just waiting for me.

As I drove along Route 5, I went through a downpour.  When I pulled up to the beach, it was still raining - yet a beautiful rainbow arced over the sky as the sun tried to peek through.  A good sign?

I parked my car and got my scope out, having already spotted several terns at the water's edge.  One looked particularly interesting.  Close looks in the scope led me to think I just might have found my county Forster's Tern.  I slowly walked around to the other side of the large flock of gulls and terns in order to get the sun at my back.  At this position, bins were all I needed.  I found two terns with rectangular masks on their faces - and they were a bit larger than the Common Terns they were loafing with.  I took many photos and checked with a few other birders to get confirmation - Forster's Terns, indeed!  One was an adult and one was a juvenile - a very nice comparative study.  It was also a nice study to see them right next to the Common Terns showing plumage and size differences.

I really do love rainbows!  :)  Below are some photos from this especially good day...

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Adult Forster's Tern

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Adult Forster's Tern

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Juvenile Forster's Tern

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Juvenile Forster's Tern

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The juvenile Forster's is in the back (out of focus) on the left and the adult is to the right of the gull.

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Both Forster's are present here - one is flying in to join the group on the beach. Note their rectangular face masks.

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A Common Tern

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A Great Black-backed Gull (3rd cy)

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Bonaparte's Gull

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A couple of Bonaparte's Gulls seen a couple of days earlier.

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A Solitary Sandpiper foraging in the mud at Times Beach earlier in the day.

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And here's that beautiful, lucky, blessed rainbow!



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