We were a week ahead of a scheduled tour to the actual two islands that have the tern colony, so instead I had to set up my scope and scan from a 1 km away at the shoreline. This proved to be rough. Both Arctic, Roseate and Common Terns were hard to ID from this distance. I don't think any birder I know could've done it while they were in flight. Once in a while a tern would come up to the shoreline, but it always proved to be a Common Tern, not the two species I sought after.Adult Common Tern. photo by Marianne Balkwill
Aaron meanwhile was discovering the richness of the seashore. He found oysters, crabs, snails and a local who was harvesting oysters while enjoying of a bologna sandwich and a Heineken.
An hour passed and though it was exceptionally clear I still could not ID one tern species from another. An older women walking her dog told us that another road leading to the ocean would give a closer look, and we took her advice, packed it in and headed out to the spot she suggested. She was right. Here at our new location we were higher and a little closer. I tried scanning again and it still proved difficult. Finally I picked out an Arctic Tern. The bird was just sitting at the edge of the island and I could ID it by its smaller bill, its shorter stance, long tail and grayer overall colour. THANK GOD!!! Another lifer, though not the greatest look. As for the Roseate Terns....They were certainly there. I saw some pale terns flying with extremely long tails, but that still wasn't enough for me to call it a Roseate. Frustrated and hungry it was time to continue our journey and head to Yarmouth for lunch. I got my Arctic Tern, but not seeing a Roseate Tern when they were flying in front of me left me a little defeated.