Migrants – Black Tern

I am lucky to live along a major migratory route for birds who breed in Canada and the Arctic but winter in the southern US, Central America and South America. There are chances to see a great variety of birds as they pass through. Shorebirds and other coastal dwellers are the primary migrants at this time. One recent migrant sighting was of Black Terns. They nest in Canada and winter on the northern coasts of South America. We see juveniles and adults who have lost their breeding plumage but they are easy to pick out among our usual summer resident Terns as they are much darker in color. There were two of them diving for fish at a large pool on Plum Island. I was working with a set of gear that I only use occasionally but still managed to capture some of the action. I swapped my usual 150-450mm zoom for a 560mm prime lens. It’s a very long lens so I was using a tripod with a gimbal, also something out of the ordinary for me. But I was happy to get some practice with this setup and the Terns really gave me that!

This is a young Black Tern. The wings are dark and there is dark shoulder, head and beak.

The Least and Common Terns that live here in the summer have much lighter wings and white shoulders. These are a juvenile Least Tern (top) and a Common Tern that were also fishing that morning. You can see how easy it is to pick out the Black Tern just by how dark it is in comparison.

Here are more photos of the Black Terns in action.

More migrant new coming, including more Black Terns.

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