These royal terns were part of a larger group and were resting on a beach in Florida last February. Being Florida, it was supposed to be warm but was actually unusually cold and windy! Still a wonderful time was had as we strolled along the beach taking in the fresh air and the movement of so many birds. My sketchbook from that time has other tern studies seen that day along with some resting ring-billed and laughing gulls. A brown pelican stood in the shallows along with feeding great-black backed and ring-billed gulls while Northern gannets soared in the stiff breeze offshore. Sanderling were active along the shoreline along with a few willet and I spotted a possible brown booby way out but it was too far away to be sure.
The painting of these terns took a few months to complete as I couldn't quite resolve the foreground so hesitated for some time. Finally I completed it this week. These royals shown here are still in their winter plumage and will in a month or so obtain a fully black cap looking then quite spectacular! Terns of all species have a special significance to me and I love the old English name for them - sea swallows. Within the genus, the Caspian tern is probably my favorite. It wins on sheer size alone but I also love the large bright-red bill. As with other large birds, I often see something of myself in them when viewing them through my spotting scope.
Update! When I posted this painting a few weeks ago, I realized that I hadn't taken such a good photo of it and the image had too much contrast. In the interim, I have also done a bit more work to it and have since re-photographed the finished version. Now I'm a little happier with it. Resting Royals is 9" X 14.5".