This was the scene at Bob Graham Beach, Hutchinson Island last Tuesday: a thick black line of bait fish in the blue-green ocean.
A fisherman told me the bait fish running at this time of year are called “anchovies.” The big and famous mullet run comes a few weeks later.
I love when the wind and surf are calm enough to see into the water like this. It’s like the Caribbean then, instead of the often-windy Shipwreck, I mean Treasure Coast.
Tarpon were cruising along right offshore beyond the bait line, occasionally swirling on the surface as they fed on little fish.
I didn’t get any good tarpon shots but trust me it was an impressive show and everyone on the beach was enjoying it.
Here’s a drone video of tarpon during the mullet run at a beach further south on the Florida coast: Florida Mullet Run & Tarpon.
But let’s get to the birds!
Ruddy Turnstones still in breeding plumage. Must be migrating down from their northern nesting areas.
It may be 90 degrees but “bird fall” (and fish fall) has begun.
Be the bird.
A little further down the beach, lots of terns including this Royal.
I’ve been trying to learn our local terns!
This one is a Sandwich Tern.
A bird of marine coasts of the southeastern United States and the Caribbean, the Sandwich Tern is readily identified by its shaggy crest and yellow-tipped black bill.
The tern with the large orange bill is a Royal Tern. Sandwich Tern above and non-breeding Laughing Gull on the right.
Step aside for the lone White Ibis, little Laughing Gull!
A beach full of fat and happy birds, having recently fed on the abundant bait fish.
The terns do the work and the gulls steal their fish, often. Though I have seen the gulls skim a fish right off the surface of the water too.
I think the one smaller tern with the orange bill is a Common Tern. But they look like Forster’s Terns too.
Sandwich Tern and some Laughing Gulls.
Very distinctive bill, in color and length – I think I’ve learned this tern.
Family dynamics of Sandwich Terns?
These women stopped and turned around when they got to the birds. Very polite of them not to make them fly.
Gull practicing its thievery skills.
Two adult non-breeding and one immature Royal Tern in this pic.
Sandwich Terns with the Laughing Gulls here.
So many fish to choose from.
Royal Terns and Sandwich Terns.
Away they go.
And down the beach I find one little Piping Plover! (I checked on What’s This Bird to make sure it wasn’t a Snowy Plover, since they look alike – online – to me.)
Everyone needs a secret beach hideout. Researchers only recently discovered that more than one-third of the Piping Plover population that breeds along the Atlantic coast spends the winter in the Bahamas.
Don’t you want to be the researchers?… hey, we found the Piping Plovers… in the Bahamas!