That’s Dad in the middle branches. He has a fresh-caught fish. The kids are above and below him, both squawking for a bite, although I don’t think he was in any mood to share. He knows they’re big enough to feed themselves and is determined to teach them self-reliance, whether they like it or not.
Little Brother stayed put up high in the tree and seemed to be content just sticking his tongue out at his big sister … and me.
But she lost patience after Dad left with the fish and took off to find a fish of her own, perhaps.
Update on the Least Terns: They’ve all disappeared from the roadside. So I have to guess that they’ve moved off somewhere in the dunes, or, in some cases, perhaps started their migration South.
It has been a rough year for them. The birds at Fort Pickens and Opal Beach lost practically an entire generation of newborn chicks due to the terrible flooding that started on June 20. Then a few tried again and hatched a new batch of eggs. I’m not sure what happened to them, but they too disappeared. Then there was that last hope. That one tiny female, apparently alone against the world, out there is that huge bare spot of sand. And there were eggs! Two of them. But those too are gone now, and so is she.
As a memorial to the Least Terns of 2017, here’s my favorite Least Tern image.
I watched this little one struggle out of her egg around mid-day on June 18. Hoping that the other egg would hatch later that day, I returned to FP as the sun was dropping low in the Western sky. But it was too early (that chick was hatched by the next morning).
The warm rays of the late-afternoon sun seemed to envelope the newborn and her soon-to-be sibling, as the chick gently crawled into the shallow scrape that was her family home and nestled beside the egg.
Sadly, they were not long for this world. But the beauty and tragedy of life are sweet.