Scott Baldinger and I traveled to Cupsogue Beach County Park to try for some of the terns that have been being reported there. The tide was well receded when we arrived and we were able to head right out to the mud flats. It was very active with lots of Terns, Gulls, waders and Shorebirds present. We worked our way around the flats and through the small channels still filled with water. First we checked out the shorebirds and waders. We quickly found Great Egret, Snow Egret, Glossy Ibis and a Great Blue Heron. Shorebirds present included Short-billed Dowitcher, Willet, American Oystercatcher, Least Sandpiper, Piping Plover, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and Dunlin. Working our way further, we checked out gulls and terns. At first, we had Great Black-backed, Herring and Ring-billed Gulls, but eventually half a dozen Laughing Gulls came in. Intitially, Common Terns and Least Terns were the only species seen, but I knew if we waited them out, others would start to show. Surprisingly, the first good tern was an ARCTIC TERN! I wasn’t really expecting this bird. They have dropped off considerably recently, their season about over here. The bird was a second summer bird with very short legs, black bill, very rounded head, pale primaries and no sign of a carpal bar. It is a very dainty looking tern. I was able to get Scott on it in my scope and then set his scope on it. Unfortunately as I set my scope to act as a tripod for my camera, the bird disappeared. We tried to find it and kept our eyes open for it the rest of the morning, but did not relocate it. Shortly thereafter, I found what would be the first of four ROSEATE TERNS! Scott quickly got on it, and we had great scope views. Photos were a bit tough due to distance, but I kept at it and got some decent shots. We managed to find a couple of Forster’s Terns and also a single Black Skimmer. Eventually, after four hours on the flats, we headed out. We heard later that a couple of Royal Terns came in after we left. We’ll have to save that one for next time. Great birding! ( I believe Scott came away with three lifers for the trip!)
Can you pick the three Roseate Terns out of this shot, left, right and middle! Besides all the good birds above, we also had a couple of Seaside Sparrows!