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.
So this will likely be an ongoing series about my thoughts regarding some birding photos. Hopefully these musing will be amusing…
How do birds hunt when the water is covered in duckweed? This has always puzzled me. There was no patch of clear water that this Green Heron was peering into, just more duckweed. This was taken at The Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. They have an area called the Audubon Swamp Garden and it is amazing! It is a haven for Anhinga, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Great Egrets, and Great Blue Herons.
Several types of birds seem to have this uncanny ability to fish through duckweed. Several raptors like Bald Eagle can peer down into murky water and see fish where we cannot see anything. I’ve seen Snowy and Reddish Egrets raise their wings in a curtain to seemingly reduce the glare so they can see into the water better. But there is something going on with these birds eyes that I don’t know about.
Ok, do packs of birds know each other? Do they look for each other and stay in groups? Or do they simply see a small group and join in uninvited? I have never heard of a banding project that bands groups of birds that are together to see if they stay together. I know birds can recognize each other to some extent because some birds mate for life. Does this picture represent five good friends who love to hang at the beach together or a random assortment of Sanderlings who know nothing more then they are the same species looking for the same food.
I love watching Sanderling on the beach. They are very active birds. As a wave rolls out the Sanderling run down the beach looking for food. As a new wave rolls in they run back up the beach just inches from the water. Then they repeat the action over an over. These little pint size birds are dancing with forces much bigger than themselves. I honestly don’t know how they are able to consume more calories then they burn with all the running they do.