I’ve worked most of this past week, so I haven’t been out to check on birdies since Tuesday.
Today I drove the FP road, windows rolled down, listening for that distinct squeal the Least Terns make. The air was silent. I was pretty sure they had all left for parts unknown. It was sad. (See earlier posts for an explanation of why they’re apparently gone.)
So I made it down to the Osprey nest to check on those two rowdy chicks. I expected them to be flying by now. But, no. They were lazing around up there in their home nest and doing as little as possible. Maybe it’s too hot to fly. One of the parents was hanging out in a nearby tree, but didn’t seem particularly interested in what the chicks were up to. So I assume they are still being fed, and apparently, had just had their lunch.
They’re large. And beautiful. But – right now – boring!
So I ate my sandwich and decided to leave.
On the way out I decided to cruise slowly around the #2 parking lot – where most of my Least Tern observations have happened this year … just in case I had missed something.
And there she was. One lone Least Tern, sitting stoically in a huge bare patch of sand. And, by the way she was sitting, I was pretty darn sure she was sitting on eggs.
This late in the season! Heck, they should all be almost ready to fly South again – in a normal year.
I watched and waited. At first she had her back turned toward me, but she was almost frantically looking from side to side and up and down. At last, she took off. That’s when I got my first look at the eggs. And I wasn’t even sure then, because they were sitting so low in the nest. I only knew for sure when I got home and brought the images up on the big computer screen.
The one distinctive thing about her is that the top of her head is not solid black, as is the case for most mature Least Terns. I wonder – is it possible that she was born early in the season THIS year? And that her survival instincts kicked in when almost the entire new generation of chicks was wiped out by those terrible rains in June, which flooded all their nests.
It’s a mystery. I did see that a few had lain eggs about three or four weeks ago, apparently as an effort to create a new crop for this season. But they all disappeared, as far as I can tell.
But NOW? It’s so late in the season. Heck, normally they’d all be leaving by now (or soon). Of course, I’ll have to keep an eye on her. I don’t know when the eggs were laid, but it takes 19 days normally for them to hatch. Then a few weeks to fledge and fly.
Wow! This is exciting.