Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Crush

Least Terns
Wiggins Pass, Florida
April 2010

"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"
~Mark Twain

I cannot tell a lie: I am infatuated with least terns.

Each spring, these completely comical and beautiful little aviators congregate along beaches here to mate, nest and raise their young. I've been eagerly awaiting their arrival this year. Nothing like the heady rush of a spring crush to break the winter blahs. One set of (snow)birds departs and another arrives.

So just how do I love them? I'll count the ways.

I love their aerodynamic skill. They sail effortlessly through the air at break-neck speeds, then plunge head-first into the water to spear fish. It's amazing to watch. And as I've mentioned in previous blogs, they're mighty bombardiers. Mated pairs swoop down with pinpoint precision and let fly payloads of acidic excrement into the eyes of any creature who threatens their nests.

And it probably goes without saying, but their hip bandito plumage is tres cool.

But for me, it's their quirky personalities coupled with their tiny squeaks I love the most. Most small shorebirds "peep" (which is why they're called the all-encompassing descriptive, "Peeps"). But not these guys. They have cheerfully chirpy squeaks that make you smile wide and happy.

Ah, spring. The sun is warm. The air is sweet. The water is clear and turquoise. And the cutest tiny terns in the world are mating out my back door.

Life is grand and love is in the air.

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 80-400mm VR, a rising tide and quiet morning in the kayak

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