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Laughing Gulls ~ Sex On The Beach

Discussion in 'Birds' started by jfenton, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    I headed back down to Plymouth yesterday and when I arrived, it of course clouded up and the wind picked up out of the NW at about 30MPH...non stop.

    I had intended to shoot tern and plover chicks on this day, but they were obviously buried in the dune grasses as I saw none and they would have been instantly swept away buy the almost liquid like flow of sand along the surface of the beach.

    Freezing and a bit frustrated, I lit up a cigar and contemplated what I was going to do. I was am mile from the cottage and there wasn't another soul in sight for as far as I could see, which meant not only were there no avian chicks to watch, but no human ones as well!

    Suddenly I heard what truly appeared to be someone laughing at me rather loudly. I looked around and saw nothing but gulls nearby. It was then that I realized a pair of laughing gulls were adjacent to the flock on what I'll call regular gulls sitting on the beach.

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/8.0    1/1000s    ISO 400

    I watched for some time and noted that they acted rather friendly towards one another in a weird sort of way. One would laugh just like you or I and toss it's head back, Within a few moments the other would follow.

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/11.0    1/640s    ISO 500

    This went on for some time until one of them just up and flew off, leaving it's partner looking rather lost....a calling out....

    View attachment 102512

    The bird which had left returned and the partners greeted each other with a little kiss (seemingly)....

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/11.0    1/640s    ISO 500

    Things got a bit more interesting after this point and a new display begn...couple with a lot of very human like laughing...

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/11.0    1/750s    ISO 500

    Now is the pint where things got a bit different that what I'm used to seeing with the tern breeding sequences which I've been shooting....

    First...rather than offering a shiny sand lancet or other trinket to it's potential mate, one of these birds did a little teasingly pecking at it's partners bill and when it opened...stuck it's head inside!

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/11.0    1/1000s    ISO 500

    After a bit of noisy banter and some trembling on the part of the bird which had a head stuck down it's throat...put came the beautiful mating gift.....which was accepted and consumed in an instant....

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/11.0    1/1000s    ISO 500

    Things really moved to the next level after this as he hopped on top, seemingly before she anticipated his arrival....

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/10.0    1/1250s    ISO 500

    As it seemed he missed waiting for her typical bowed acceptance posture, she turned her head as if to ask just what the hell he was doing....

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/10.0    1/1250s    ISO 500

    Evidently giving in to either his explanation or his actions, she lowered her head and lifted her back in the traditional manner and breeding commenced in earnest.

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/10.0    1/1250s    ISO 500

    This particular male was quite full of himself and took full advantage of this situation. He attended to his duties for much longer than the typical bird mating endeavor.....

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/10.0    1/1250s    ISO 500

    Not only was I getting exhausted from watching at this point, but he apparently was getting a bit winded himself....

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/10.0    1/1250s    ISO 500

    I think that she sensed that he was going to give himself a heart attack and with a wiggle of her tail and a little side step, she did him the favor of knocking him off of his mount...

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/10.0    1/1250s    ISO 500

    I watched a he sat there for the longest time. She on the other hand headed down to the edge of the water for a bit of a post breeding cleanup....

    NIKON D2Xs    ---    700mm    f/8.0    1/1250s    ISO 400
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2007
  2. Nice stuff Jim, Enjoyed your day as well!!!
  3. DNAsiRNA


    Nov 27, 2006
    Dallas, USA
    What a nice love story.
  4. Glacier


    Jan 17, 2006
    Boaz, Alabama
    Great photos and story as well. I absolutely love Laughing Gulls.
  5. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Really wonderful images and breeding sequence and information

    Thank You
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2007
  6. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    Hey Gale

    I fixed it darlin :) 
  7. Great stuff!!! Isn't nature terrific to watch and capture!!

  8. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Great Captures Jim,

    The blowing sand was worth it right! Well done on the camera work/metering/focus etc. etc. etc.

  9. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Once again, persistence and plain hard work paid off for you Jim. Wonderful series.
  10. Jim, a terrific series and documentary.

  11. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    Thanks Everyone

    I would have loved to have you standing there freezing in the wind alongside me :) 

    Actually it was worth the price of admission just to watch...exspecially since there wasn't another soul around.
  12. Fabulous shots again Jim!

    (This is your voyeur-phase, right?)
  13. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    Hello Gonzo

    Me...a Voyeur? :) 

    Last week I had a rather terse older couple approach me on the beach, demanding to know what I was taking pictures of.....and then accusing me of taking pictures of their teenage daughters on the beach.

    I was rather amused because I wasn't doing that at all.....but even after I scrolled through more than 100 images on my camera for them to see, somehow I got the feeling they still didn't believe me.
  14. We want to see the photos of the daughters. :) 

    Great series. You must have spent quite a bit of time out there to get this sequence.
  15. Hi Jim, Terrific photographs as all have been for the couple years I've followed your posts here and the other site. It's a scary thought that not only will we be perceived as possible terrorist but now voyeurs too. I hope to get to Plum Island this year any recommendations as to when and where?
  16. Lovely sequence with images of superb clarity.

    Bob F.
  17. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    Hi Gregg

    A) Anytime is good :) 

    B) Where the wildlife is at any particular time is good!

    Honestly, there is stuff to shoot every single day.

    Granted, sometimes are better than others and I'd strongly recommend that you go on line and subscribe to either the MASS BIRD postings or join the Plum island Google group as several of the areas expert birders post daily reports there as well.

    It all depends what you're hoping to shoot.
  18. Thanks Jim, I will check them out.
  19. Jim, more of your terrific shots. Your images are always so good and the effort you put into them really shows. Well done.
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