Beyond the BackyardMatanzas Tern Colony

A Least Tern Chick and More Crabs

Another weekend, another trip up to St. Augustine to visit the Least Tern colony.  Finally – I spotted a chick!!

Least Tern Chick
Least Tern Chick

I was surprised not to see more chicks at the colony.  They seem to be hatching late this year.  In previous years, we’ve had a Chick Fest around Memorial Day.  On Monday I spotted four chicks: the one above, a slightly older one running around at the back of the colony, and a freshly hatched pair of twins that were waaaaay far away.  This one was the only one that let me get any photos.

Hey! Bring the Fish Here!!
Hey! Bring the Fish Here!!

He was especially cute when he perked up for food.  His parent flew in with a fish, and Mom and Dad and Baby were all calling each other, as if to say, “Hey! Bring the fish here!”  (Sometimes it does seem as if the bird flies in to the wrong family.  Maybe it’s good that they call to each other.)

Fish Hand Off
Fish Hand Off

The wind didn’t cooperate with the photographers on this particular morning.  When the parents flew in with fish, their wings covered up the chick!  The babies didn’t seem to mind.  They just wanted the fish! :)

Ghost Crab
Ghost Crab

All around the chick, Ghost Crabs lurked.  I noticed more on this visit than on my last visit.  The adults were very vigilant.  As soon as the crabs got too close to a nest, all the birds started attacking.  At one point I photographed a crab as he grabbed the bird’s tail and held on as the bird flew into the air!  I can’t imagine that was comfortable for either the bird or the crab.

Attack on the Crab
Attack on the Crab

It’s such fun to photograph the action shots like the birds defending themselves from the crabs.  But I can’t wait for more opportunities with small chicks.  They are such fun to watch as the parents care for them!