As the old group, the Byrds, said: “there is a season, turn turn turn”… Currently that season is Forster’s Tern season here in the mid-Atlantic. The Forster’s Terns are in full breeding plumage and eager to fish. Terns are fun to watch while they fish, if you have never seen them they fly over the water and stop on a dime when they spot a fish. They then hover for a second while they confirm their findings and then simply fall out of the air. The terns dive bomb into the water with a loud splash. This is not a graceful dive like a kingfisher, this is a crash that makes a loud noise.
Now, if you think this makes them hard to photograph you would be correct. The hovering phase isn’t too bad to photograph but the fall and splash is quite hard to photograph. The Forster’s Terns seem to hover about 25 feet off the water and when they dive / fall they seem to hit the water in about 1 second. Could be less, could be more, but when behind the camera it might as well be an instant because it is hard to capture.
I visited Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey last Friday, July 20, 2018. I was accompanied by my mother, Debbie Jordan of DAJ Designs Photography and we arrived at 6am, just after the sun broke the horizon. The first thing you hear as you arrive at the refuge is the Laughing Gulls laughing their heads off out in the marsh. The first bird we saw was a Clapper Rail which is usually a good sign that you are in for a birdy day. But quickly the Forster’s Terns took over and were the hit of the day with their fishing antics.
Bird of the day for me was my 316th life bird, a Whimbrel. We kept an eye open for the reported Roseate Spoonbill but despite others seeing it, we never found the spoonbill. All in all it was a great day, albeit an exhausting day with a 3 hour drive each way from my home in Maryland.