On a recent all-too-brief visit to that Mecca of birding in my home borough I was doing my best to get some good flight shots of the Forster’s Terns, Common Terns, and Least Terns that were frequenting both the West Pond and the bay across the trail. I didn’t get much that was usable, but I did get one shot that really confuses me. Until I got home and uploaded my images to a computer I had no idea I had captured such an odd image and since then I have stared at it and pondered what, exactly, the tern is doing. Before I go further I will share two differently cropped versions of the same image.
The image does not make sense. The wings seem to be in the correct position but both the front and the back of the bird are rolling. Why? What is going on here? Is this Forster’s Tern about to do a barrel roll? Help!
It does look like it is about to roll over. But a very strange picture indeed.
Lying back and enjoying the sun on its neck.
Did it just come out of the water? It could be shaking off excess water, although I don’t see any droplets. Black skimmers do this to some extend. Neat photo!
The only one that knows is that Canada Goose. Find him and you’ll have your answer.
I’d place my money that the tern is checking out some silhouette to make sure its not a Peregrine.
Obvious isn’t it? Tern turn.
Yupp, I’m with Beth and Bill: eyes closed, bent outer tail feathers, twisted body: you froze a tern turn.
I’m with Beth on this one–maybe he’s shaking out his plumage. I’ve seen osprey shake like a dog in flight. Very cool shot!
I like Bill’s best because it makes me laugh. But the shaking off after bathing seems to be likely – I did see several birds bathing there and there is no reason to think that this one wasn’t.
Very cool shot!