This Royal Tern’s refreshing late afternoon bath looks to be as much fun, as to be a necessary function.
Just offshore in shallow surf, he and his buddy splashed and rolled in Murrells Inlet, near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He twisted and rolled in the water secure in the knowledge his flock mates were watching out for him.
Also watching, but seemingly unimpressed was a Laughing Gull.
Soggy and waterlogged, a quick flight shed most of the water.
Aware of my presence, but unconcerned, a flock of fifty mostly Royal Terns crowded together. They faced the wind, ready for quick take-offs and to go about the daily routines that keep them in top-flight shape.
When nearly blown-dry, they rejoin the others onshore to preen, oil and straighten their feathers once again.
With their heads twisted around and buried in fluffy feathers, others remained alert for the flock’s protection.
The Royal Tern is a large tern found only along the coastal beaches of the southern United States and the northern beaches of South America. They feed on fish and shrimp by diving headlong into the water, just like the huge Brown Pelicans that joined them here on this second day of April.
The pelicans, still in full breeding colors, monstered over the flock, but all parties were getting along nicely.
Tolerance of strangers only goes so far when it comes to birds. If you get into their comfort zone they will leave, as these Royal Terns did when I got within fifty feet. Upset, but not alarmed, they rose one by one. Angling past me and flying quietly they gave me one last picture opportunity to photograph these beautiful, graceful birds before disappearing over Murrells Inlet.
(click on any picture to enlarge)
Murrells Inlet Link (locator)