Bird #327 — Royal Tern

sterna (tern) maxima (greatest)

Friday, July 20, 1990 — 7:00 am

Tybee Island, Georgia — north end, near Fort Screvens — Atlantic Ocean

A wake-up call roused me at 6:00 a.m. I followed the directions in A Birder’s Guide to Georgia.  It told me to park near the old police station and walk over the dunes to the beach.  I drove around the area, but couldn’t find a place to park.  I drove to the Tybee Museum and parked in front of a meter.  I didn’t have any change, but nobody was around so I decided to risk it.  I walked over the boardwalk that crossed the dunes and started up the beach.

Exciting things began happening immediately.  Two Fish Crows were perched on a sign, calling.  Five or six Willets were feeding at the ocean’s edge.  They flushed as I approached and headed up the beach.  Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, and Semipalmated Plovers were walking the beach.  One of the plovers was missing a leg, but it hopped around without apparent difficulty.  About 50 Royal Terns were crouching in the sand, oblivious to the people walking about.

Yes, there were people walking about.  The book told me that terns congregate in this area, and it was right.  It also mentioned that a recent condo development was a detriment to birding.  It was right again.  People were popping out of the condo and strolling all over the beach.

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