Lunch trolley menu: Terns


Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus) – St. Pete Beach, FL

Not to put too fine a point on it but I’ve noticed that terns travel in mixed assemblages of species. And sometimes they fish together. And preen together. And nest alongside one another. And it seems they’re all working toward the same goal.

I wish that we, the human counterpart, could take note from them and realize that we pretty much all want the same basic things. And that there are easier ways to get there. I digress.

Here, look at these Royal Terns.


Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus) – St. Pete Beach, FL


Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus) – St. Pete Beach, FL


Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus) – St. Pete Beach, FL


Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus) – St. Pete Beach, FL


Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus) – St. Pete Beach, FL

Royal Terns inhabit much of the coastline of the western hemisphere. They’re also present along the coast of western Africa. They eat small fish, shrimp, squid and crabs.

As I was saying before, they breed in huge colonies right next to Sandwich Terns (and Laughing Gulls).


Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) and Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – St. Pete Beach, FL


Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) and Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – St. Pete Beach, FL

Sandwich Terns (sometimes called “Cayenne Terns”) inhabit mostly the same range as Royal Terns except for that some populations breed in Europe–how romantic.

They enjoy menhaden, sardines and anchovies almost exclusively. All of the pizza toppings.


Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – St. Pete Beach, FL


Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – St. Pete Beach, FL

Neither of these birds are globally threatened. Which is something to applaud every single time. Especially because they are seabirds and the ocean is a changing place these days.

We’re back to Newfoundland on Sunday with a little bird that Newfies lovingly refer to as a “mope”.

Early morning Sanderlings


Sanderling (Calidris alba) – St. Pete Beach, FL

If you want to see birds, you have to wake with the birds. Especially if you’re on a very popular beach like the one in St. Pete Beach, FL. You’re bound to see shorebirds anyway, but if you want VIP access, hit the beach before all the children and sun-bathers for a nice walk (with your binoculars and camera that you carry everywhere because you MUST bird every location).

Sanderlings are some of the most beautiful migratory shorebirds you’ll have the pleasure of watching. From a distance, they might look a bit drab skittering across the surf in search of insects and mollusks but they’re actually quite colorful when you zoom in. Have a look.


Sanderling (Calidris alba) – St. Pete Beach, FL


Sanderling (Calidris alba) – St. Pete Beach, FL

Sanderlings are extreme migrators! They breed on land in the northernmost locations that exist on our planet (including the tip-top of Russia, Greenland, Canada and Alaska). During the winter they surround the coasts of just about every continent. You’d be hard pressed to travel somewhere with a beach that didn’t play host to Sanderlings.


Sanderling (Calidris alba) – St. Pete Beach, FL


Sanderling (Calidris alba) – St. Pete Beach, FL

Come back Wednesday for more Florida wildlife. Reptiles this time!

Iceberg Alley

On this, the last day of Iceberg Week, and the last nice day I can find in the foreseeable forecast, enjoy a couple more photos of the big beauties.


The Pinnacle and The Ferrari


The Sapphire

The iceberg above was my favorite of all. Very blue and smooth due to the unrelenting antagonizing by the Atlantic Ocean.

If you’re looking for more beautiful photographs of Newfoundland icebergs, look no further. I have links for you!

A good friend of mine, and fellow biologist, takes exquisite photos of Newfoundland. Please drop by Chelsey’s website and have a look. I promise, you won’t regret it!

Also, if you want an iceberg tracker for the behemoths paying rent in Iceberg Alley (a large stretch of coast along the province of Newfoundland and Labrador), please check this out. is an incredible resource for locating and keeping tabs on icebergs detected by both humans and satellites. Have a look now to see how it works and then be ready to track icebergs in real-time during the next peak season (April-August).

I hope you enjoyed seeing icebergs and learning a little something about why we care for big random pieces of ice this week. There will be a couple more iceberg cameos in the weeks to come because I’m not even close to finished showing you Newfoundland.

For now, we’ll head back to the world of birds where I have dozens of feathered dinosaurs waiting for the limelight.