Sunday, July 13, 2008

An Interesting Tern

Today, we got a break from the summer birding doldrums, and got a life bird: a Gull-billed Tern. There have been reported local sightings of the birds every few weeks for the past few months—mostly at Bolsa Chica—but only today did we finally get one.

The only bad news was the location where we saw it: in Talbert Marsh, just across PCH from the Huntington State Beach Least Tern Reserve. Gull-billed Terns in San Diego—the northern end of their normal range—have apparently been eating up a dangerous proportion of that area's Least Tern chicks and eggs, and there has been some concern that they'd bring that regrettable habit north with them. Fortunately, though, this year's Least Tern babies have already grown into fledglings (thus, I'm guessing they're too big for a Gull-billed Tern to take out), and this particular bird seemed content to eat snails and other shellfish plucked from the mud in the marsh:

We also noticed that the bird was banded—the band isn't visible in these pictures, and unfortunately, wasn't legible in the shots where we could see it. Obviously, we're not the only ones taking a close interest in his whereabouts!

1 comment:

John said...

I just saw my life GB Tern this month, too! They really stand out from the other species.