BLACK TERNS in the Black Dirt!

~Three of the 7 BLACK TERNS in the pouring rain at Skinner Lane this evening, 08/13/18. Usually I’m not a fan of farm machinery in my shots, but in this case it seems perfect.~ 

Wow, what a crazy evening of birding I had tonight! I was feeling optimistic as I headed out to the Black Dirt Region after work. Severe storms had moved through the area and appeared to have dropped a lot of water; I was hoping this would make for some interesting birding. I was planning on covering a fair amount of territory, but my first stop – Skinner’s Lane –  ended up being so good, I never left until it was dark. It was raining pretty hard. In fact, it rained pretty good for almost the entire evening, only letting up when I was getting ready to leave. When I arrived, there was a pretty good collection of shorebirds present: BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS (3), Semipalmated Plovers (4), Least Sandpipers (3), Killdeer (many), and one bird that I initially thought was a Semipalmated Sandpiper but for the moment I’m leaving unidentified (see below).

~Photos were tough, but this one turned out halfway decent. Black Terns at Skinner Lane, 08/13/18.~

I was just about to leave when I noticed a group of peeps had flown in without my seeing them. It was a group of what I’m pretty sure were Semipalmated Sandpipers. Then things got crazy. A small flock of larger birds flew in – they circled the field once and then flew to the south and out of sight. By this time, all my gear was wet and really, I had now idea what the birds were because I just couldn’t get a good look. But, then they came back – I jumped into my car and grabbed my camera to get some shots. They circled the field 3 more times and then headed northeast and did not return. I must have been a little frazzled because I looked at the pics and still couldn’t ID them… I shot a quick photo to Rob Stone who identified them as BLACK TERNS! I was freaking out! I looked at my photos to get a count – I had a single shot with 7 in it!

~BLACK TERNS in the black dirt, 08/13/18.~ 

More shorebirds arrived after the terns had departed – I added 2 Wilson’s Snipe, 7 Pectoral Sandpipers, and another group of Semipalmated Sandpipers to my list for the evening. What a great night of birding; once again, bad weather=good birds.

~I like this shot because you can really see the rain coming down. It’s a grainy, rainy shot of BLACK TERNS at Skinner Lane, 08/13/18.~ 
~BLACK TERNS at Skinner Lane, 08/13/18.~ 
~I’m not sure what this bird is. I’m wondering if it’s a Sanderling – I’m not sure if you can see it in the photo, but the bird had hints of rufous on its head and back, and the size seems possibly good for Sanderling (see photo below with Killdeer as reference). Any thoughts on this bird, please leave a comment – thanks! ~ 

10 thoughts on “BLACK TERNS in the Black Dirt!”

  1. Matt,
    What a great evening you had! That is some assortment of shorebirds and the terns are even better. You don’t get them in numbers too often. As for your shorebird ID, I would say definitely a Sanderling. The size is right and the stark white underparts are perfect. As for the head and back color, I don’t think we have another bird that gets red like that with those combinations of features. (Red Knots are red, but the other features size, color don’t work). Great find on all counts! John

    1. It was a great evening, I was totally thrilled. Thanks for the help with the Sanderling ID – that makes the evening just that much better! Matt

  2. I wonder if that is what flew past me this morning at Liberty Loop. I was just making phone calls and enjoying a King Fisher on the post after work when what looked like a tern flew from Jersey direction to pine island.
    Unfortunately on a call that I couldn’t put down and tried to get a photo with one hand but didn’t work.

    1. Could be Karen! Or another species of tern… I’ve been in your shoes before, the one handed photo of a bird in flight is rarely going to work out, lol. Matt

  3. How exciting! The photo of the three BLTE with the farm machinery in the blurry rain drenched is beautiful. Congratulations on the Sanderling as well, Matt.

    1. I really like that shot too Kathy – it really captured the moment, in my mind. The Sanderling was icing on the cake. Matt

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