Saturday, 22 August 2015

Hunting Terns.

A trip to Hayling Island a few days ago to visit my father-in-law provided an opportunity for me to take a wander around the disused oyster beds. With high tide some hours away and a strong south-westerly blowing darkening clouds overhead I wasn't too hopeful of capturing any images until I spotted a pair of Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) dashing across the water and hunting for food for a youngster hidden  in the vegetation on one of the remaining bund walls.

I stood for a while monitoring their regular sorties across the water. As they seemed to be favouring two particular areas not too far away from one of the existing sea defence walls I decided  to pick a spot, park my bottom, and make myself as comfortable as possible and see if I could obtain some closer images.

I had to ramp up the ISO setting from 800 to 1600 in order to catch these very quick flying acrobatic terns so some of the shots are a bit grainy.


Amazing to see how they manage to spot their prey from so high above the surface, twisting their head from side to side, and maintain their position while being buffeted by the strong wind.

My efforts to catch them as they hovered very briefly before plunging into the water was far more sucessful than trying to get a shot of one lifting off with its prey in its bill where I failed dismally!


With very little other activity on or above the water, apart from one or two loafing Black-headed Gulls and overflying Oystercatcher and Little Egret, this pair were constantly chatting to one another until a Crow showed some interest in the nest site and then the noise levels increased dramatically as they wheeled, dived while screaming to defended their air space and promptly drove it away.  


With this final image I thought I had finally managed to capture one adult with prey in its bill but on closer inspection it turned out to be just a feather! 

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Wild Bird Wednesday hosted by Stewart

16 comments:

  1. HI FrankMy family used to sail around tht area in fact I did once also. Now you did relaly well at photographing these lovely Terns, They are also so graceful and then quick on the dive.

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  2. Wow....I am in total awe. Such fantastic images of the terns in flight. Wonderful.
    Thank you very much for sharing this post with us bird enthusiasts at I'd Rather B Birdin'

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  3. Awesome captures of the Terns! They are one of my favorite birds. Have a great new week!

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  4. A fabulous series of photos! Beautiful! I love Terns...have since I was a child and lived on Midway island and saw Fairy Terns regularly.

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  5. "A bit grainy" being code for "really really amazing" I think!

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  6. Wonderful captures, Frank! I have been watching this species on my side of the pond as well, but I have not captured any photos as good as these!

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  7. Love your wildlife shots. Thank you for linking in with the "Through My Lens" photo meme.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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  8. So graceful in flight. Tom The Backroads Traveller

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  9. What wonderful pictures of these beautiful birds in flight.

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  10. Lovely pictures of a beautiful end elegant bird!

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  11. Beautiful in-flight photos of the terns Common terns are migrants here for our summer - although a few over-winter sometimes. Great to be able to see them taking fish to their young ones.

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  12. These are stunning images Frank. I never get good flight shots and you have dozens! Every one perfect. I like terns so much.

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  13. Lovely sequence of shots Frank. Well captured.

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