Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Caspian Tern-Big Chauncey, Westborough

I had a 1/2 day at work today due to an ongoing two day headache so planned on heading home for some R&R to make it go away.  I'd get home and see a post by Nick on the Facebook Central Mass Birders page of his father finding not one but TWO Caspian Terns at Big Chauncey Beach in Westborough so off I went to try for them as Justin still had them so it sounded as if they'd do me the honors of sticking around.  I'd find my way to the quiet part of Chauncey Beach (away from the swimmers) and would see three birds close by so get my bins on them and could see one of the Caspian's right away but wouldn't you know off they'd fly!

Despite that- I'd still manage a quick record shot of them both!  The left and right with the Ring-billed Gull in the middle.  I'd curse to myself and be grateful I was quick with the camera but so wanted nice looks of them calm and on land.  That wouldn't be the case though as they spent the rest of their time flying over the water.

And coming in close enough for some half attempted flight photos.  Based on the photo I'm guessing this is the 1st summer.

While I was disappointed of the flight looks only, it did allow me a good amount of time to watch the two of them way out in the middle of the pond flying around together so took the opportunity to drink it all in and learn their overall flight patters as this is often how one sees them so appreciated the practice to be on the lookout next time!  The picture above is a good demonstration of the bird in foraging mode with it's bill pointed downward.

Highlight would be seeing them dive down to the pond for prey and then bolt back into the air again which is a good thing to look for when you're observing white birds flying far out over water as it's not typical gull behavior so can help you pick out the outlier in the flock as they would be flying around with the gulls here and there too.

The adult.   Soon enough they'd fly out of view and toward Chauncey Lake where all the dog walkers go near the soccer field so I got into my car to head over there to try and find them.  I really wanted audio of these birds and figured that area would be ideal with no nearby traffic to mess up my recording.  I'd get there and scan the water with my bins and wouldn't you know the little buggers would land back on the beach over where I just was.  Since I was there I figured I'd spend some time looking around Big Chauncey and would see a very cooperative Great Blue Heron nearby.

I'd slowly approach it anticipating a fly off but the heron paid no attention to me and went about its business.

Which would be scoring itself some lunch!

We'd be on the same wave length as he stalked his prey and I stalked him and if I'm not mistaken I'd be mirroring his crouched body movement.  He'd take two steps and I'd follow suit and when he stopped, I'd stop-to take a couple of photos of course!

Making for some pretty nice photos for my camera which is a rarity lately.  It would also give me the chance to record more birds making me happy considering it was mid day and the star would be some young Yellow Warblers in a moving flock with their parents.

I've been very lucky this year with calling young which makes for some much needed audio that often gets under recorded in the bird audio world as they can be tough if you don't see them and no parents calling (not to mention they almost whisper) and it's no wonder they are often given second thought.

In summary, while I was driving home from getting an awesome county bird, I'd wonder why the Caspian Terns were seen this late in the season and according to Peter Dunne's Field Guide Companion (my bible), fall migration (for lack of a better word) can happen among these birds as early as late June!  So when you stop to think of it this is the first of the fall migrating birds.  How crazy is that and just shows how time does fly.

So all in all a perfect way to take a 1/2 a day and my headache is gone!  Guess all I needed was a little dose of birding.

Take care all.

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