Thursday, May 21, 2015

A bit of quality time with a Black Tern at Kuna Sewage Ponds

Yesterday Mary Rumple (another Boise area birder we’ve run into a couple of times while out and about) shared on the Idaho Birding Facebook Page that she’d seen a Black-bellied Plover at the Kuna Sewage Ponds. We’ve only seen Black-bellied Plovers once in Idaho, and missed them last year, so we made a quick trip out to the ponds on my lunch break. Unfortunately we didn’t ever find the plover, but did enjoy much better looks at the Black Tern that’s been in the area for a week or two. In fact, it was the first bird we saw when we pulled in! Here he (or she) is, relaxing on the side of the biggest pond, with a Killdeer providing a nice size comparison, and a little bit later belting out a “kik” call.

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Killdeer and Black Tern at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 20, 2015.

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Black Tern at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 20, 2015.

Those were exactly the types of looks (and photos) I was hoping for, though it would have been nice to have a bit more light. After a few minutes, he took off and started feeding again. The flight was so fast and so erratic it was very difficult to keep him in frame, let alone actually focus the camera, but after a minute or two a pattern became apparent – he was flying the same loop around the pond over and over again, and each loop brought him right up to our car window for just a split second. We stayed put for the next several passes, and tried to get a decent flight shot. While I didn’t get anything amazing (and a DSLR with a much faster shutter and focus wouldn’t have hurt), I definitely did a little better than our last trip. Here are a handful of shots that turned out the best (I threw a couple hundred bad ones away).

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Black Tern at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 20, 2015.

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Black Tern at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 20, 2015.

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Black Tern at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 20, 2015.

Since I only had a short window of time I eventually had to call it quits on the Black Tern or else I was going to run out of time to look for the Black-bellied Plover. A few loops around the ponds produced really high numbers of a lot of great birds, but overall things were about the same as our last trip. The one exception was the number of Red-necked Phalaropes, which was way up compared to our last trip. We counted a total of 77 across all the ponds, with the largest single group including 61 birds! You can see most of that group here.

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Red-necked Phalaropes at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 20, 2015.

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Red-necked Phalaropes at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 20, 2015.

They actually outnumbered Wilson’s Phalaropes this time. Perhaps this bird felt light putting on a show to get a little more attention, since the Red-neckeds were hogging the attention.

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Wilson’s Phalarope at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 20, 2015.

The one other bird that was new for this trip was this Caspian Tern. There was actually a second one nearby, and they were both hanging out with a pretty sizable crowd of Ring-billed and California Gulls right in the middle of the ponds.

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Caspian Tern at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 20, 2015.

Not bad for a quick lunch break outing! I likely won’t get another chance to go to Kuna Sewage Ponds for a while, so I’ll probably have to hope for a Black-bellied Plover during fall migration instead.

Click here to see our full checklist of 31 species on eBird.

1 comment:

  1. From all the photos and images of the birds you have shared with us, I really love the last one. Caspian Tern looks like a very pretty bird

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