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Least Terns ~ A Breeding Story

Discussion in 'Birds' started by jfenton, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    Along with the morning piping plover ~ least tern interaction I observed, I spent a fair bit of time in the afternoon following a particular least tern male around as he was rather intent in making sure that the species continued.....fortunately his fishing endeavors were always right in front of me, which made him rather easy to stay with.

    He would bring fish constantly and approach any female with his offering in an attempt to coax her into mating. More often than not, he would be loudly dismissed and he'd fly off to find another potential mate.

    Believe me when I tell you that these gals weren't to be mated with easily!

    Finally, after nearly an hour, one of the females didn't turn on him upon his approach, but rather stayed put...with seemingly total indifference at first.

    He would dance behind her for minutes at a time and finally, after what seemed like an eternity to me at least (it was actually more like twenty minutes), she entered into a wonderful courtship ritual with him.

    Her head went down and he back flattened which must have meant good things, as it got me excited that breeding would finally commence....and it certainly caught his attention.....

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    We had to take a break for a momernt as a gull attempted to intervene and harassed the male in an effort to steel his offering...fortunately it didn't work and after a short relocation flight, the courtship commenced once again.

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    He danced behind her for ten minutes or so, their heads turning swiftly back and forth in total opposite cadence to one another. For a brief moment their rhythms matched and he instantly made his move....

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    Alighting on the platform she had provided for him with the flattening of her back and wings, he began dancing upon her, calling softly at the same time. Giving into his foreplay, she turned her head back as if to survey the offering he had been attempting to coax her with....

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    A moment later his gift was accepted.....

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    At the end of this spectacular courtship, she held his offering in her beak as they did exactly what nature intended for them to do....

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  2. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Well, I seem to run out of words to say Jim,

    Thanks for sharing,

  3. Fabulous study, Jim!

  4. me too... what a series, You have such natural feel to these shots, so soft in color yet just the right sharpness
  5. just outstanding images Jim. . . unique even.
  6. Jeff Lee

    Jeff Lee

    May 16, 2006
    Jim, Great Series.
  7. TimK


    Apr 17, 2006
    Hong Kong, China
    Jim, great series! Beautiful sots of these beautiful birds. Terns are one of my favorites. They are so graceful, esp during flight!
  8. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    wonderful series
    Beautiful tones and color .
    Light was very nice
  9. Hokum


    Jun 20, 2006
    Pennines UK
    Supurb shots Jim, very well done.
  10. Jim, this series is wonderful.... the lighting is perfect and so is the camera angle. Do you use an angled viewfinder or just get right down into the mud?
  11. Hi Jim, EXCELLENT series...one of your best! What lens did you use to get 700mm?

  12. So it would seem a fresh dead fish is a girl's best friend; which flies in the face of common practice. They may be on to something! Any volunteers to test out the technique and report back to the group?

    Another stunning series, Jim. Superlative work!
  13. These would be great shots to mount in a single frame - or sell to someone writing a book!
  14. Great series Jim. You've become quite the observer of nature!
  15. Bolts


    May 7, 2007
    Tampa, Florida
    Nick, I can vouche that I'll do pretty much anything for fresh fish. Maybe a little salmon? A plate of fried smelt?

    I do draw the line, however, on eating fish in bed.
  16. Glacier


    Jan 17, 2006
    Boaz, Alabama
    Excellent series Jim. I think #1 is just a cut above maybe because the sand is darker in that one and it really makes the birds pop. Each and every one of these is outstanding though.
  17. Toklat


    Aug 31, 2006
    Another superb series. I have been photographing Arctic Terns here locally for the last couple of weeks and witnessed very similar behaviour. Masterful work.
  18. Jim, a fantastic story and excellent images to go along with the story. Well done.

  19. Each of these photos is excellent - but the sequence adds so much more. They show how the best nature photography combines superbly detailed observations with outstanding beauty. Thank you.

  20. Just a fantastic series. The images really separate out nicely from the sand background.

    The narration is great. I do feel like a bit of a voyeur. Did you get a shot of them sharing a cigarette afterwards?
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