Part II of my early morning visit to Sandy Point on Plum Island last Sunday.
Least Terns, the smallest of terns, fiercely protective of their young on the ground., were swooping around and screeching above me as I walked near their territory, whereas the Piping Plovers were paying little attention to me.. Least Terns share the same nesting habits with them, although more adaptable and therefore less in need of protection as they also nest on all kinds of sandy spots, alkaline flats and even gravel roofs.
The juveniles waited quietly on the beach to be fed. I didn't want to disturb the parents too much; so I kept my distance.
Common Terns were less disturbed by my presence. Many were carrying food in their beaks, although I didn't see any juveniles. Maybe they were just looking for a peaceful spot to devour their prey which they may have just stolen from other terns. They are very proficient klepto-parasites.
The presence of Sanderlings shows that fall migration has begun. They, along with Semipalmated Sandpipers, breed in the high artic and migrate south in mid summer. I only saw a few at this visit, all adults with the rust red head and neck. Until now I had only seen Sanderlings in their mostly gray and white non-breeding plumage on my previous visits later in the fall.
This solitary Short-billed Dowitcher was feeding in a shallow lagoon along with semipalmated plovers and sandpipers. It's migrating from subartic Canada to its wintering grounds which extend from southeastern US to the West Indies, Venezuela and Brazil and starts in late June
Here is another fall migrant. If the bird hadn't stretched its wing I would have had a difficult time identifying it as a Black-bellied Plover, but the dark axillaries gave it away. It's either a non-breeding adult or a juvenile but hard to tell from this distance.
It's a fairly large bird as can be seen here in comparison to the Semipalmated Sandpiper behind it.
Off shore was a flock of gulls, mostly Bonaparte's, adults and juvies. (I am correcting an earlier statement that this was a Black-head Gull - an expert ornithologist set me right.)
Looking at this Great Black-backed Gull I decided it was time to break for lunch.
Coming in Part III: Eastern Towhees and Purple Martins.
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