#441 Elegant Tern

Elegant Tern is an embarrassing bird for me. Hundreds breed at Bolsa Chica. They are common in flight up and down the coast, and occasionally show up almost in my backyard at Upper Newport Bay and San Joaquin Wildlife Refuge. I’ve seen them repeatedly as far back as 2005 on my first trip to Orange County; and until now, every single time I’ve misidentified them as Royal Tern (a much less common bird out here).

I finally realized my mistake this past Spring, and have paid somewhat more attention to large terns since. However I didn’t get back out to Bolsa Chica to correct my mistake until just this last weekend, and there they were, dozens of Elegant Terns just sitting there with all the Western Gulls, Forster’s Terns, and even a couple of Gull-billed Terns:

Forster\'s Terns, Elegant Terns, and Western Gulls on a sandbar just off the spit at Bolsa Chica

Fall migration is kicking into high gear. I’m not sure if I should target something next, or just spend a lot of time at the shore. A juvenile Black-chinned Sparrow has been reported at San Joaquin. Maybe I’ll spend some time looking for that.

Leave a Reply