Sandwich Terns aren't all that rare in New York, but they certainly aren't common and you do have to go and look for them. They drop by the flats and tern colonies along the Long Island beaches in Summer each year and sometimes, as after Hurricane Irene last year, can be quite regular. In other years though, they aren't as abundant and could be missed, so I wanted to try to get this species while it was being reported.
On Friday, I'm offshore on a boat in the morning, battling 8-10 foot swells and not seeing much in the way of sea-birds, so of course when I get back to land I hear that almost every East End birder has seen one or more of perhaps three Sandwich Terns at Cupsogue during the day. Against my better judgement, I head over there at the high tide, missing the last report by 45 minutes and again dipping the Sandwich Terns.
I have something of a love-hate relationship with Cupsogue. On the plus side, the birds are great and I spend three hours there on Friday night enjoying large numbers of shorebirds, including Red Knots, White-rumped Sandpipers, etc. There are also good breeding birds to see, like Saltmarsh and Seaside Sparrows, and I even add a Suffolk County year-bird when a Little Blue Heron flies over. On the downside, Cupsogue is crowded, costs $15 to park, requires a hike through, well let's just call it "mud", has rapidly shifting tides, and a healthy population of ferocious biting insects. Not everyone's idea of an ideal day at the beach.
|White-rumped Sandpiper and Semipalmated Sandpiper|
|Sandwich Term with Common Tern|