After three inches of rain fell at our home in the last 2 days, I was convinced that it was time to head to the Palmetto area east of Springfield.
This area has always been prairie, and, as a result, it sometimes attracts bird species that we rarely see in the heart of the Ozarks. These include the shorebirds that manage to appear out of nowhere when flooding occurs in the region. Unfortunately, not enough rain fell this time. Nowhere was there suitable habitat, and so, nowhere was there shorebirds.
The highlight of the day was a flock of over 34 Black Terns. I've always loved terns, and the way that they glide, twisting and turning through the air. Most of the time I see them at a distance, out over the water, but this time it was different. In the middle of the alfalfa is a blacktop and, as I drove down it, the terns came directly toward me. I stopped quickly to grab the bins and get out of the car.
As I stood next to the car, the terns passed by me, many within 50 feet. One hundred yards down the road they landed. The flock was a study in black tern plumage, with every intergrade from fledgling to adult breeding plumage, and it allowed me to approach within 50 yards.
And so, the drive was well worth it, as I drove away replaying in my mind my best looks ever at these graceful "black top Black Terns".