A Brief Lake Erie Shore Morning

May 30, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

In the second half of April, the Lake Erie shoreline in Conneaut, Ohio had a special visitor called an American White Pelican.  I wanted to make the 2.5 hour trip several times but timing never worked out for me.  Finally I had a free morning and with a sighting within the previous 24 hours, I was pretty hopeful that I was going to come home with American White Pelican photographs.

It wasn’t meant to be.  While waiting for a pelican sighting, I had several other species of birds to photograph so the day was not lost.

Upon arriving to the shore, I noticed this juvenile Bald Eagle walking along the beach in an area where dead fish wash up on the sand. Bald EagleBald EagleJuvenile


I’ve photographed Caspian Tern many times at Conneaut but this day was going to be special.  There was a flock of probably 200 Caspian Tern.  Well, let’s face it, 150 tern and 350 tern look pretty much the same when they are flying around.  Let’s just say there were a lot.  I held the shutter button down when several of them took off at one time. Caspian TernCaspian Tern


If I was looking for a quiet, soothing day at the shore, I was badly mistaken.  The Caspian Tern wanted to vocalize.  Usually, many at once. Caspian TernCaspian Tern


There was a lot more than raspy squawking going on.  These two were preparing to mate right in front of all the other terns. Caspian TernCaspian Tern


You would think the previous photo would make the other tern jealous.  Seems like flying by with a fish in your mouth causes more excitement. Caspian TernCaspian Tern


Because I don’t get to see many species of tern, I still need to look some up to confirm identification.  I almost dismissed this smaller tern that was there in very few numbers.  There were about three Forster’s Tern mixed in with the Caspian Tern.  While the northeastern United States is in the migration path of the Caspian Tern, range maps show the Forster’s Tern is not. Forster's TernForster's Tern


I mentioned earlier that a fish causes quite a ruckus when it’s being paraded around the flock in the mouth of a Caspian Tern. Caspian TernCaspian Tern


It was fun to watch how the other tern reacted when the “owner of the fish” came close by.  Some vocalized while others tried to steal the food. Caspian TernCaspian Tern

Caspian TernCaspian Tern

Caspian TernCaspian Tern


Once I saw the Forster’s Tern in flight, I knew I had something special.  I’ll be honest, I still didn’t know what it was.  I wish I would have spent more time photographing this rare find but the next few images are the last ones I got before it flew to another part of the beach and I ran out of time.

Now I know the forked tail is the major identifying mark of a Forster's Tern. Forster's TernForster's Tern

Forster's TernForster's Tern

Forster's TernForster's Tern


One of my last sights before leaving the beach that morning was an immature Ring-billed Gull catching a fish.  Well, that’s not really a big deal.  It was interesting because the fish was too big for the gull to lift off.  Using its wings, it swam about 30 yards to the shoreline in front of me stopping and covering its prey every time another bird flew past. Ring-billed GullRing-billed GullImmature


Double-crested Cormorants are a skittish bird.  I spotted this lone cormorant on a large pond near the harbor so I stopped for a few photos. Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested Cormorant


That ended my morning watching for the American White Pelican.  Maybe next time I’ll react a little quicker when another one migrates off-track and visits a near-by shore.

Thanks for looking,



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