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Tip-toe through the tern colony

I’ve walked many miles lightly in my years. That includes tip-toeing around feeding grizzly sows with cubs and quietly trying to leave a pre-dawn house with a “you wake ‘em, you take ‘em” rule about disturbing sleeping children.

Wednesday morning I took feather-footing to the max as I followed Charlie Cope and Nathan Ofsthun into the least tern nesting colony in north Wichita.The super camoflauge of least tern eggs and chicks lets them blend well with the open sandbars that are their nesting habitat.Even with his great eyes, GPS coordinates and birding experience Ofsthun had to go slow as he looked for eggs and huddled chicks.

Several times I couldn’t see chicks the biologists pointed to 20 or 30 feet away.

When I looked away I sometimes needed a few seconds for my eyes to pick an egg or chick out even though I knew they were there.

As we came and went I concentrated only on stepping in the smudges made by the man walking ahead of me. It was like trying to make it through a mine field.

This year’s nesting successes have been as impressive as chick’s camo. The photos turned out pretty nice, too.

Sometime between Friday and Sunday you should be able to walk your way through the story on the front of our B section of The Eagle. Be sure to also go online to see a photo gallery of about 15 pics.

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