Least Tern Chicks and Almost Time to Leave

By Linda

I have been doing some bird stewarding for the Audubon Society as part of the Florida Shorebird Alliance.  We hang around posted Least Tern colonies to educate people about the birds and help to keep people and pets away from the colonies to give the birds a chance to be successful in rearing a new generation.  This was my last week-end of stewarding since we are leaving soon.  I didn’t think I would get a chance to see any chicks but I was wrong!  I saw my first chicks yesterday and got some video today.  It was taken through a Swarovski spotting scope with my handheld HTC phone in the wind.  Considering that, it’s a pretty good video!  You can see two little chicks huddled under one of the parents.  The other parent comes by with a snack and feeds one of the chicks.

Skimmers, Gulls, and Least Terns at Anastasia State Park. This picture was taken through a scope. Notice the bill on the Skimmer. That is the guy with the orange and black bill. The top bill is shorter than the bottom bill. The birds skim along the top of the water dragging their lower bill through the water to catch fish.
Yesterday, Regis came along for the ride while I was stewarding.  I stayed by the colony for my three hour shift and he wandered Anastasia State Park.  He visited the campground to check out their recent renovations to make it easier for larger rigs to fit into one of the loops.  He saw a squirrel who had just robbed a campsite.  The squirrel was struggling with a jar of peanuts he had stolen.  Since it was a plastic jar, that squirrel hit the peanut jackpot.

As for trip preparations, we have loaded more than half the stuff into the RV.  The Motor Home was detailed and you need sunglasses to look at it because it is so shiny.  We took our bicycles in to the shop to get them ready for the trip.  The oil has been changed in the car.  Dart will get his bath later this week.  Almost all reservations have been made.  We are getting in trip mode!


Least Terns Courting and Trip Preparations

By Linda

Least Terns Courting
Least Terns courting on Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida.

The Least Terns are courting and nesting in Florida right now.  They are a State threatened species.  Regis and I have spent a couple days this week checking them out and trying out my new camera body.

The Least Tern males bring fish back to the females to entice her into agreeing to a partnership.  If she is pleased, they will mate and start a family.  The nest will be built by scraping a small bowl in the sand.  It was great fun watching the activity.  We made sure that we did not disturb active nesting birds.  There are at least 110 active Least Tern nests in Anastasia State Park.

Least Terns 2
Two male Least Terns courting a female in Anastasia State Park, St Augustine, Florida.

I recently bought a second camera body.  I was getting tired of swapping lenses constantly, so I purchased an additional body to make it easier to be prepared.  My main camera is a Canon 50D, so I purchased a Canon 80D to attempt to have a camera that worked in similar ways.  Although it may, I am astonished at what the new camera can do and how much different it is from the 50D.  My first attempt to take pictures of the Least Terns did not go very well.  Today, I had better success and hope to try again tomorrow.  The focusing is different and several of the other features will require practice to get it down.

Least Terns 3
Least Tern flying at Anastasia State Park in St Augustine, Florida.

We will be embarking on our 2017 Adventure on May 30.  We are headed to the Canadian Atlantic Provinces.  Fortunately, Canada is making access to all their parks free this year and I have already obtained our free Park Pass.

Canada Park Pass
Park pass for Canada Parks for our upcoming Adventure.

This year, I have made reservations for almost all locations for the whole summer.  We usually try to have more freedom, so we don’t make reservations too far ahead of time.  We learned that the best locations are taken very early, so freedom results in not being able to get to the best campgrounds/campsites.  I have reservations for several of Canada’s Parks.  I even have some waterfront campsites reserved for a couple locations.

I will pick up my 49th state on this trip.  I have not been to Rhode Island or Hawaii.  I will get to Rhode Island on this adventure.  I don’t think I’ll be doing Hawaii in a motor home.

Regis is getting the motor home washed and waxed next week in preparation for the trip.  I think we will be better prepared for this trip than ever.  We will be able to see a lot of our family and many friends on this trip since most of them are on the East Coast.

We will begin blogging regularly as we get started, but we may have some trouble blogging when we are in Canada.  Regis has been looking at some options, so we will see how it goes.  If we are not able to upload our blog posts, we will write them and post them when we can.

There is so much going on in Florida all year, that I almost hate to leave.  We love it here.  There are lots of wildlife happenings and good friends.  Nevertheless, we are very excited about our upcoming trip.  I guess it is good to be torn about leaving.