The plan today was to walk out Sandy Pt for an hour, then go home to study. I figured while I was out I could sneak in a quick trip to Milford Pt to check on the state of the shorebird migration there. So I spent an hour there, was about to leave, and took one final scan of the big sandbar at the mouth of the river...the one that's usually distorted by heat shimmer. On that last scan, among the Common-type Terns, was a larger, paler blob. Normally I'd be thrilled by this. But I was already behind schedule and realized that I could not leave without IDing the thing. Probably a Royal, given the odds. You'd think identifying a large tern would be easy...and it is...except when the heat shimmer+distance are so poor that you're not even sure what general color the bill is, or if it has a crest or not. So it was a waiting game. Thirty minutes later, the heat shimmer broke enough to figure out that I was looking at a Sandwich Tern. As the tide rose, the terns were flushed from their spot and began to move to much closer sandbars.
This is the fourth state record by my count, and the second one in two years (Charlie Barnard found one on the Stratford side of the river mouth last summer).
Here is a series of photos. As usual, click them for larger versions.
There were also a few Roseate Terns in the flock, which were giving great views as well. At least 2 first-summer Common Terns. Earlier in the afternoon at Sandy Pt there were migrants including a hendersoni Short-billed Dowitchers. In the coming days I might post photos of some of these other birds.