Forsters Terns, Huntington Beach State Park

To every thing
Tern! Tern! Tern!
There is a season
Tern! Tern! Tern!
And a time for every purpose under Heaven.
The Byrds, 1965

Inspired by this song, I’ve been waiting all these years to get photos of terns. In mid-March, the Forsters terns at Huntington Beach State Park finally gave me the opportunity I needed. As the terns flew back and forth over the water, looking for their next meal, they would occasionally stop and hover, before diving to make their catch. Better yet, they would sometimes do this relatively close to shore, with the sun at least not directly in my eyes.

When I saw what a variety of wing positions had been captured, I was further inspired to make captions about voting, umpiring, bombing, blood-sucking, and taking off, eh?

Note that these birds do have eyes: You just can’t see them in my photos.

Forsters tern with wings angled upwards.

The “Ayes” have it.

Forsters tern with wings spread sideways and down

Oh, no, it’s the “Nays.”

Forsters tern with wings spread horizontally in baseball umpire signal for "Safe."


Forsters tern with wings straight up, over head


Forsters tern, caught almost vertical with wings spread

Coming in for my strafing run, outta the sun . . .

Forsters tern with wings hunched like Dracula's cape

I vant to drink your blood.

Forsters tern flying away from camera

That’s it, I’m outta here.

It was amazingly difficult to get sharp photos of these little guys. The only saving grace was the good light, which allowed me to use a fast shutter speed. This is my best shot, I think, but I also think I’m not done with terns yet.

Side view od Forsters tern, wings spread over head


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8 Responses to Forsters Terns, Huntington Beach State Park

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Of course you’ll take more pictures of them. One good tern deserves another.
    Jim T

  2. Air travel has a long way to go to match the efficiency, grace, and mobility of these not-so-simple terns. Lovely views that, as always, deepen the viewers’ appreciation for fleeting images.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Thank you. I am surprised by what the camera sees that my eye is not fast enough for. Amazing and delightful.

  3. Barry says:

    the angles that those wings bend, from aye to nay,
    is just unbelievable!

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