Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sanibel Beach 12/13--Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Terns with a Royal Tern and Laughing Gulls
Mike and I started the day as usual with our vigorous walk along the beach, heading east toward the sunrise. We had more birds than usual on the beach and a humorous encounter. In the dim early morning light Mike spotted a large gull with a dark back and we had our first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the trip. Relatively common in Florida at this time of the year, this is a gull that people get excited about back home. I managed to get one photo just before it flew off:
Lesser Black-backed Gull
The bird I was more interested in had been proving hard to find this trip. Sandwich Tern was one of the first lifers Shari & I got on our first trip to Sanibel and we got it just by walking down to the beach and looking at the gulf. This trip I hadn't seen any until we a small flock materialized on the shore just as the sun was rising. They conveniently huddled around a Royal Tern to make the size comparison easy, though the "mustard" on the bill is a giveaway and showed nicely on a couple of birds in the slanting sunlight.

While we were walking back a guy ran up to us and in heavily French-accented English asked us if that bird in the tree was an eagle. We looked and, no surprise, it was an Osprey. I was speculating as to whether the French drive pick-up trucks when he informed us that he in fact, was not French, but Swiss, from the French area of Switzerland, as if it would make a difference to us Americans. Maybe the Swiss don't want to be confused with the French. So, he was a bit disappointed that it "only" an Osprey but he wanted to know what the bird was called in French, after we told him that Osprey were found pretty much worldwide. My French is non-existent but I do carry the knowledge of the world in my pocket so in a moment I had the answer on my phone.

Osprey is known as Balbuzard in French speaking parts of the world.

"Ah, oui, balbuzard," and then he knew the bird, probably never having looked at the ones flying over Lake Geneva or wherever. And Mike & I have a new word to refer to this common bird. But it must be pronounced "BaaalBOOzar!" It's the Swiss pronunciation.

Our little list for our sunrise walk
17 species
Black Scoter  5
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Brown Pelican  2
Snowy Egret  1
Osprey  1
Black-bellied Plover  5
Ruddy Turnstone  3
Sanderling  20
Willet  3
Laughing Gull  10
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  1
Lesser Black-backed Gull  1
Royal Tern  15
Sandwich Tern  7
Black Skimmer  8
Fish Crow  4

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