Sunday, July 15, 2012

Black Terns nesting in Glacial Park, IL & Horicon Marsh NWR, WI

A Black Tern hovering over part of Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, WI; 6/16/2012.
About a month ago I was able to see my first Black Terns (#397 on my Life List), which were at Glacial Park, near Richmond, IL. However, they were so far out over the marsh that the best photo I could muster (Below) was pretty poor quality. So it goes without saying that a week later when I encountered a pair of Black Terns at Horicon Marsh, excited me for the chance to see them in action at more of a close range and to get a better photograph (Above) of this  beautiful species.
The best photograph I could come up with for the first Black Tern on my Life List, Glacial Park, Richmond, IL; 6/10/2012.
I was actually trying to locate some Marsh Wrens chattering away in the cattails and trying to get a Yellow-headed Blackbird in flight (would that be a YHBBIF?), when a Black tern flew over my head and I followed its flight to over the marsh. They are pretty easy to pick out, as their heads, belly, and breat are completeyl black, whereas most terns are primarily white. It flew pretty far out, but was still a lot closer than the Glacial Park Black Terns. Then I noticed at least two of these Terns hovering over the marsh.
A Black Tern fishing for a meal in the light rain, Horicon Marsh NWR, WI; 6/16/2012.
The two Terns put on quite a display, and even though it had started to rain, I was able to follow some of their flight and snap a couple of photos (Above).
I noticed that one of the Terns landed in the reeds and I lost its trail, but the other kept circling, hovering, and hunting nearby.  It also confronted a couple of Blackbirds (Red-winged and Yellow-headed) as if warning them not too get too close. I hoped that meant there was a nest somewhere. Only when the second Tern also landed did I notice the first Tern sitting on a muddy clump of reeds at the far end of the marsh (Below).
As I was following the flight of the Black Tern in the upper right center part of this photo, there was also another Black tern sitting on a nest in the lower left-center part of the photo, Horicon Marsh NWR, WI; 6/16/2012.
There are two Black terns in the photo (Above). Can you spot them both? (Below) is a close up the nesting Tern from the photograph (Above).

A close up of the Black Tern sitting on its nest, Horicon Marsh NWR, WI; 6/16/2012.
Having never seen a Black Tern before this summer, then seeing them twice within one week was exciting for me, as it is anytime I see a new bird. You birders who are able to identify a bird for the forst time know the feeling I am talking about.
A Black Tern, Horicon Marsh NWR, WI; 6/16/2012.
In the summer months, Black Terns are found across the northern states of the country, from Oregon and Washington in the West to the Great Lakes States in the Mid-section and the East, and spread throughout much of Canada. There are small pockets in California, Nevada, Colorado, and Kansas, where they can also be found. They typically will start their migration already in late July to their winter grounds in and around the northern coasts of South America.

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