Terms & Skimmers
a web page by Don Roberson
Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus
This tropical species is an exceptional vagrant to California. There have been hurricane-borne individuals but the adult I saw at Bolsa Chica, ORA, 14 July 1995 was courting Elegants in the huge colony there. Distance precluded photos of this stake-out, but I drew this sketch & typed details.
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus
There had been only two coastal vagrant records for Bridled Tern when this adult turned up to summer at a closed area next to the Salton Sea. I was very lucky to be invited to join Guy McCaskie to do a survey here 28 July 2008.
Least Tern Sternula albifrons
A local breeder along the s. Calif. coast, and in S.F. Bay, it is otherwise rare. This adult was part of pair that returned from a second summer to Westlake Ponds, KIN, 11 July 1999 — in the San Joaquin Valley — where the species is very rare.
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
This tern is regular only at the Salton Sea during the breeding season. This adult flew over me there on 8 May 2008.
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
Widespread in summer, a breeding colony sometimes forms at the Salinas River mouth. The colony had many young by 17 June 2004 when I digiscoped this adult with a big fish.
Black Tern Chlidonias niger
This first-summer bird was at south end, Salton Sea, IMP, 28 July 2008. Black Terns can be common here in migration.
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
This alternate-plumage bird at Arcata, HUM, on 25 June 1996 was the State's first record. I chased it. Fortunately, the second CA record was closer to my home — at Moss Landing from Aug-Oct 1999.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
A common migrant offshore, this first-cycle tern was sitting on kelp on Monterey Bay, MTY, on 27 Aug 2006.
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
A common migrant far offshore, we typically see them only on boat trips, as this one on 22 Sep 1982 on Monterey Bay.
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
Perhaps the most widespread tern in Calif., I really have spent much time photographing it. This basic adult was at Moss Landing in Mar 1986.

Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus
A regular coastal tern in s. Calif., it becomes exceeding rare in the north. This winter adult was at Port San Luis, SLO, 24 Jan 2009, where it was at about its northern edge of distribution.

Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
I saw a stake-out vagrant in the Elegant Tern colony in San Diego Bay on 26 May 1982; my description in on-line. Another latter bred with an Elegant at Bolsa Chica, ORA. The black-billed bird above was an apparent hybrid Sandwich X Elegant tern was at the Pajaro R. mouth, MTY/SCZ, on 7-9 July 1995, presumably one bird hatched at Bolsa Chica in summer 1993.
Elegant Tern Thalasseus elegans
Every summer brings a huge influx of adults and young Elegant Terns along the shores of Monterey Bay. This pair was still doing courtship greetings on the Moss Landing jetty 23 Sep 2008
Black Skimmer Rynchops niger
Skimmers are regular in coastal s. Calif., and now nest in s. San Francisco Bay, but this one photographed 20 July 1978 at Alvarado, ALA, was just the 3rd or 4th record for n. Calif. at the time
Photos: All photos © Don Roberson, all rights reserved.



  page created 15 Feb 2009  
all text & photos © Don Roberson, except as otherwise indicated; all rights reserved