Bird #329 — Sandwich Tern

sterna (tern) sandvicensis (of Sandwich, Kent, England, where type specimen was taken)

Friday, July 20, 1990 — 7:15 am

Tybee Island, Georgia — north end, near Fort Screvens — Atlantic Ocean

I was thoroughly enjoying myself as I scanned the large mixed flock of birds on the beach at the water’s edge.  I figured I had plenty of time, but after I was there maybe 20 minutes, it began to rain.  I tried not to let it bother me and continued looking.

The flock contained about 400 birds.  Most were Common Terns, Royal Terns and Laughing Gulls.  A few Ring-billed Gulls and Black Skimmers were hanging around.  On the outskirts of the flock, but still in the immediate area were Least Terns, Willets and some smaller sandpipers I never got around to identifying.  For a short while, an immature Brown Pelican stopped by.  Three Snowy Egrets waded in the surf a bit further up the beach.

I was looking for Gull-billed and Sandwich Terns.  After being confused by Common Terns for a while, I finally spotted a Sandwich Tern in the middle of the flock.  It was walking amidst the other terns, often hidden from my view.  It flew up and landed at the other end of the flock, about 30 feet away.  I watched it land and noticed another one nearby.

I wanted to continue looking at them, and to scan the flock more carefully, but it was raining harder, and I was getting wet.  When it started to thunder, I left.

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