Plum Island Sightings

The Least Terns that nest on the southern tip of Plum Island have pretty much finished the breeding season. Most of the younger birds are now flying with the adults. There was also a flock of Common Terns on the beach and around Plum Island Sound on my last visit. Beak color and the pattern of black on the head are easy ways to identify which one is flying by.

The size difference is noticeable when they are close to each other. Here a Common Tern is after a Least Tern’s fish.

A Common Tern beach party.

I don’t think the juvenile Least Tern in this photo sequence was trying to catch a fish. A few terns were diving down and apparently getting a drink and that might be what it was doing. This may have been a botched attempt at either activity. Or maybe it was just time for a swim.

Meanwhile, a Piping Plover chick was out for a run on the beach.

Some birds I spotted going to and from the beach, starting with a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. The tail isn’t red on this youngster yet. It’s sitting on an antenna used to detect migrating birds that have chips implanted in them.

A Great Egret joins some Mallards.

Tree Swallows are starting to gather into large swarms before migrating. The tops of these phragmites are full of resting swallows.

This is a large group of different species that occasionally go after schools of fish together in a mob. There are Yellowlegs, Snowy Egrets and Cormorants. There are a few Dowitchers mixed in as well.

The bird at the top of this photo is a White-rumped Sandpiper. It is easy to spot when it is flying since its rump doesn’t have a dark center line. It is much harder to pick out when the less common White-rumped Sandpipers mix in with a much larger group of Semipalmated Sandpipers (the other birds in this photo) on the ground. The only real differences visible on the ground are that the White-rumped is slightly larger and has longer wings that extend a little bit beyond the tail. You really have to look closely to spot it!

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