Last year, we discovered a location in Corolla, NC, the Brown Pelicans love that I’ve longed to return to ever since. We were two weeks earlier in the summer season than our visit last year, but I was sure the Pelicans would be there for me to photograph. Wrong!!! ☺
We had a sunny, late afternoon to walk the length of Corolla’s beach from the public parking lot to the row of pilings where they hang out during mating season, about two miles down the beach. As we walked, I photographed Sanderlings and Sandpipers along the way. The afternoon light was perfectly directed from the shore to the sea, and I anticipated capturing the Pelicans on the pilings this time with ideal lighting.
From a distance we could tell there were birds on the tops of the pilings. As we closed the distance, we realized there were no Pelicans, only Cormorants, Terns, and Seagulls. My disappointment was evident, but my bird spotter, Jen (always the optimist) encouraged me to enjoy the moment. That’s when magic happened.
The Royal Terns in their breeding plumage stole the show. With their black capped heads, forked tails, orange beaks, and bright white body and wings they make a striking image against a dark blue sky. One alone on a piling is a pretty picture. One on every other piling with a Cormorant in-between is even more interesting. Mix in a Tern in flight, carrying a fish, presenting it to a potential mate, and it’s a photographic field day!
The ritual went on for quite awhile, with three or four flybys by the fish-carrying Tern. The Tern on the post responded similarly each time, with raised head feathers and crying out with beak wide open, never leaving its post.
I had to share this series of pictures with you. I’m quite sure at some point I will choose one or more of the images to paint, but until then I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of the images in the sequence of Royal Tern shots taken that afternoon in Corolla.
Graceful like Swallows in flight and statuesque like Turner sculptures when posing, they totally amazed me. The experience was thrilling to watch and photograph.
I would love to hear from you. Let me know what you think of the pictures. Thank you as always for your interest in all that I’m up to in the world of art and photography.