Least Terns ~ A Breeding Story

Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
4,507
Location
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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Joined
Apr 17, 2006
Messages
1,235
Location
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!
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Messages
14,461
Location
Toronto Canada
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?
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2005
Messages
5,148
Location
Houston, TX
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!
 
Joined
May 7, 2007
Messages
2,331
Location
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.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2006
Messages
1,883
Location
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.
 
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
413
Location
Alaska
Another superb series. I have been photographing Arctic Terns here locally for the last couple of weeks and witnessed very similar behaviour. Masterful work.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2006
Messages
1,259
Location
Greater Manchester, England
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.

Alan
 

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