Sandwich Tern!

Sandwich Tern!

Recently I was in Lido Key, Florida – a popular tourist destination in the Sarasota area when I had some down time in my travels around my home state to visit South Lido Beach. As soon as I got out of my car, I noticed a tern on the sand near where I parked that looked very odd (which means unfamiliar to me). I usually have all my field guides with me whenever I travel, but in this case I was shooting a couple of beach weddings that weekend, and was out of my usual nature photography mode: hence – no field guides. I got as close as the tern would allow me, and took a couple of shots.

Sandwich Tern

 

As soon as I was satisfied I had a clear and well-lit image to identify later, another one started flying by me over the surf. Then another. Then another.

Sandwich Tern in Flight

 

After an all-night drive back to Tallahassee after shooting landscape shots well into the night, I went directly to my home office bookshelf. What was so odd about this tern? It wasn’t large or small – just like any other tern. No idea. I decided to upload all the images from that evening to my computer, and as the images began to appear on the screen I noticed what I didn’t notice on the beach: the yellow tip on the bill.

After about two minutes looking this up, the only tern that has this feature is the sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis). Very cool! A new find for me! Common in California and the upper Atlantic Coast, these terns on occasion will migrate across the mainland to the Gulf of Mexico in winter, which explains why I couldn’t identify it right away by memory. The good thing about photographing Florida wildlife, you never know what might stop by!

Rich Leighton
January 3, 2011

About The Author

Pro photographer, writer, master naturalist, Florida native in the PNW, lucky husband, father of two boys, big hockey and soccer fan, and native orchid hunter.

Comments (5)

  • Sue Street

    Great blog and photos Rich! I’ll be reading your blog more often. 🙂

  • Norwich Photography

    Hey Rich,

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photographs. Your photographs are very clear. Even I noticed the yellow tip at the first time!

  • Rich Leighton

    Thank you for the support and feedback! Have a great week!

  • Sharon Johnson

    Thank you for sharing this. I love seeing these.

  • JacqueeG

    Great shot Rich. Don’t know how I got away from checking out your site but with no cell phone to follow the tweets ect I got lost….lol.

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