A Common Tern Tending Her Nest

Thursday, June 11, 2020,

This is a series of photos of a Common Tern tending to her nest. Terns, like many other shorebirds, make very simple nests. Most are usually just shallow scrapes in the sand. Terns depend more on their cryptically colored eggs than on fancy digs to conceal their location.

This Tern, however, fancies herself a bit of a Martha Stewart. She’s already laid her two eggs but now she’s redecorating. A little extra sand, perhaps a stick or two, and the place is really starting to shape up.

Take note of the skate egg case in the foreground. It’s that small black pouch with “horns” at either end. Some folks refer to them as Mermaid Purses. They’re actually the egg cases to certain species of sharks and rays. But today, it’s about to become a bit of home decor.

Check out where that Mermaid’s Purse has ended up. If you click on the above photo for a larger view, you may notice one of it’s “horns” sticking up in front of the eggs. A beautiful finishing touch, don’t you think? And now, it’s time for a rest.  JK




Oystercatcher Nest

Monday, June 3, 2020,

This is an Oystercatcher nest and those are two Oystercatcher eggs. They are fairly easy to spot here but this is a zoomed in photo and the eggs are in the center of image. If you were to try to spot these eggs on a beach, you would need some very sharp eyes. I knew where this nest was, having spotted it the previous day, but it still took me almost ten minutes to find it again when I returned. As you can see, Oystercatchers do not build intricate nests. Like most other shorebirds, they merely make a shallow scrape in the sand.

This is Mama Oystercatcher who has come to sit on her eggs. She spends most of her time on or near the nest but she does leave it occasionally. While I was taking this series of photos, she only left the nest twice. Once to dance with her mate, and another time to scold a Tern that was perched on a nearby pole. That’s how I managed to get the photo of the uncovered eggs in the first pic. After giving me the once over – I was seated some distance away – she settled back down to incubate her eggs. JK



Number Nine

Thursday, May 14, 2020,

This is a House Wren that has taken up residence in bird house number nine at Morton Refuge in Sag Harbor. I was mostly just relaxing and taking the occasional photograph but this lady kept flying to and fro looking for edible little tidbits for her family. Each time she scored a meal, she would fly back to the nest box, disappear within for a quick moment, and then fly back out in search of more insects for her brood. House Wrens make good parents.  JK.


A Backyard Visitor

Thursday, June 28, 2012,

Four days ago I was looking out my back window, as I am often wont to do, when I spied a dark shape moving rather quickly across the back lawn. This was too fast and determined to be a bird. Birds foraging on the lawn are mostly step, step, stab or hop, hop, poke and stab. There are variations of course, but there are few instances of birds running in straight lines unless there’s a territorial dispute of some kind. Robins are good for that; they’ve got this thing about personal space but they’re not the only ones. Just yesterday I saw a young Grackle shoo off an Eastern Cottontail. 

  Anyways, back to the story at hand. This visitor racing across the yard was moving much too determinedly to be a bird. I had a pretty good guess at what I was seeing but it was too far off for me to be certain. I stood closer to the window. I squinted. No go. I squinted harder. Again, no go. Squinting just doesn’t work as well as it used to. Maybe I need new squinters. So I reached for my binoculars, and yes, there was a Diamondback Terrapin. ‘Tis the time of year when the females come ashore to lay their eggs. Less than a week before I had found one trying to deposit her eggs in the gravel driveway. This is never a good idea. It’s a dangerous place for her to be, let alone the ten or so so hatchlings come September. Not to mention the very real chance of scrambled eggs in the meantime, if someone’s car should roll over the wrong spot. I moved last week’s terrapin to a nice sandy spot in the yard, but there’s no arguing with a woman. She will plant those eggs wherever she sees fit and and there really is no persuading her. Sigh. At least she’s not asking me to move the couch. JK