Re: Elegant Terns Breeding in Alameda!!

Matthew Dodder

Elegant Terns are currently nesting in San Mateo County at SF2 near Dumbarton Brodge and have bred there for a year or two prior.

Matthew Dodder
Executive Director
Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society

On Jun 21, 2022, at 8:24 PM, rfs_berkeley <rscalf@...> wrote:

Just like the case of Black Skimmer, this mystifies me.

Apparently Elegant Terns began breeding in San Diego Bay in 1959.  Or at least, they were noticed by then.   Skimmers it seems was 1976

Then Elegants colonized Bolsa Chica Lagoon in Orange county in 1987 (apparently Skimmers, 1985)

Then Los Angeles Harbor in 1998.

Now San Francisco Bay. 

But why did they skip the wetlands of Vandenberg Air Force Base? (I think Santa Barbara County)

Why did they skip Morro Bay?

Why did they skip Elkhorn Slough?

I suppose this would require an interview study.

Rusty Scalf

On 2022-06-21 18:02, Helen Keating wrote:

Yes, Least terns are alive and well and at Alameda Point. This is the first year since Covid that volunteers have been allowed to observe the colony.
You may be interested in this article by Richard Bangert.  If the link doesn't work, you can google articles by Richard Bangert.
Helen Keating
Caspian Terns and Elegant Terns join struggling Least Terns. Naval Air Station – Alameda gained notoriety as a refuge for the endangered California Least Tern when the base closed in 1997.


From: <> on behalf of Jim Chiropolos <jnc@...>
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 5:54 PM
To: <>
Subject: [EBB-Sightings] Elegant Terns Breeding in Alameda!!
I had lunch at Middle Harbor today and there was a large group of Caspian and Elegant terns on the mudflat and one of the Elegant Terns flew to the former Alameda county navel base with a fish in its beak. In the spring, I and others had watched large groups of Elegant terns engaging in courtship at Middle Harbor.

Searching  Ebird, John Luther reported  a week ago that 760 elegant  terns with some young were seen, which I believe is a first breeding record for Alameda (and lots of Caspian terns - almost a 1,000 - but no least terns). The breeding location is not accessible to the public. This is big news for the east bay, and Nor-Cal as I believe that no sizable elegant tern colonies or breeding had occurred in the bay (not sure of Peninsula and south bay status).

No matter what, this is big news as most elegant tern colonies are in Mexico and I think 3 in so-cal. This breeding and sizable colony indicates very dynamic tern behavior!!!

I did see several least terns - but not a lot. I am curious- is the good news for elegant terns good or bad for the least terns that next here and what is the status of least tern colony at the former Alameda island air station. Could someone with access fill us in (I will volunteer to do counts if no one is counting). (No Forsters terns seen in Middle Harbor today).

I need to bike Hayward marsh and see how the least terns and Forsters terns are doing there - last year I think was a down year. Can a counter there fill us in on the tern Hayward status. When that county is doing well, Hayward marsh just north of 92 is a cool place to bird as the terns, Forsters and Least are continually streaming  overhead back and forth after fishing in the bay. The tern colonies are the crown jewell of summer east bay bird activity.

Mark Rauzon or others, can you fill us in on any more tern news.

Thanks - and I'm excited after seeing so many Elegant terns in june!

Jim Chiropolos

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