Saturday, March 31, 2012

Royal Tern

After I completed my work in California a week ago Thursday, I decided to check out the coastline around Malibu before heading back to the Hotel. I happened to notice a pond on the beach and several gulls nearby so I decided to stop. It was called Zuma Beach and there turned out to be an interesting variety of waterfowl in the pond. I saw American Coots, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Ruddy Ducks and Buffleheads. There were also some swallows flying over the pond. I believe they were Northern Rough-winged Swallows, but my pictures aren't very good as the sun was about to touch the ocean making for poor lighting conditions.
After seeing all I could at the pond I decided to check out the gulls. It appeared to be mostly Westerns with a few Ring-billed and Californias, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a single tern. It appears to me to be a young Royal Tern, probably transitioning out of juvenile plumage as it has a fair amount of black on its wings and tail and also has partially orange legs. It appears as though its legs are also transitioning as they are a mix of blotchy orange and black. It could be that it was wading in something that stuck to its legs, but since I see many signs of transitioning to an adult, I'll stick with the color transition theory.

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