[CT Birds] Bridled Tern

Stephen Broker ls.broker at cox.net
Tue Aug 1 18:53:20 EDT 2017

To summarize, after some delays in getting the right boat, our veteran USCG-sanctioned Captain Chris Howe, Bill Batsford, and I took a rental boat to Falkner Island, arriving there at 1:00 P.M..  On arrival, we recognized Frank Gallo on the island, and Frank called to us that the Bridled Tern had been showing well most of the morning, but that it flew off and to the south some two minutes before we arrived.  We silently channeled our best Scaramucci when we heard this.  Frank did say the Bridled Tern had some history of flying over the island and back into view.  So, we anchored and studied the many hundreds of terns in front of us, looking for Roseate, Forster’s and Black terns.

At 1:40 P.M., we saw the Bridled Tern flying in to the landing area jetty (Restricted Access!), and for the next 35 minutes we observed and photographed this beautiful bird from various angles, left of and right of the jetty, several times changing our anchoring positions.  Unlike its behavior as described in previous posts, the bird did not drop in and out of view in the rocks.  Rather, it remained perched at high, readily observable jetty points and gave us great views and great photographic opportunities.  Several times we saw the Bridled Tern up in the air, once being chased by a Common Tern.  It always settled back on the jetty and after some searching was relocated by us.  We departed the jetty area at 2:15 P.M. and began a slow circumnavigation of the island in search of the other tern species and whatever sandpipers we might find.  During this phase, we found two American Oystercatchers, one Willet, one Ruddy Turnstone, several Laughing Gulls, two Bonaparte’s Gulls, two Osprey, numerous Double-crested Cormorants, and one rock.  We did not find Black Tern (there are one or two that have been reported by others), and we’re still considering possible sightings and photos of Forster’s Terns.

At 4:00 P.M., we returned to the jetty, and within a couple minutes we relocated the Bridled Tern.  Again, we saw the bird from various angles, and again it was perched in various high positions on the jetty.  We again saw it in flight a couple times, but we were always able to relocate it with some searching.

At ca. 4:20 P.M., Nick Bonomo motored in to Falkner’s with Jim Dugan, Stefan Martin, Mark Szantyr, and Glenn Williams.  The Bridled Tern continued in excellent view on the jetty, and we departed, leaving the Bonomo party to get their definitive photos and behavioral descriptions.

This Bridled Tern is an exquisitely beautiful bird.  It’s been a 25-year wait to get this species back in the state.  How long it will stay at Falkner’s Island remains to be seen.   

eBird report and photos to follow some time today or tomorrow.

Steve Broker


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