Terns are one of my favourite birds to photograph in large part because they are such a challenge. They are very fast flyers and very aggressive when defending their young. This summer I wanted to challenge myself to capture some images of adults feeding their young. There is one particular rock in a local lake where the terns usually nest that I figured would be a pretty good spot.
In my ten years in Yellowknife I have only seen them not nest there one year and I think that was dues to a period of inclement weather during the time that the terns were attempting to nest. My suspicion is they found a more sheltered location that year.
I took my kayak out and did my best to anchor the boat in a patch of cattails as it was quite windy. Then I waited for the birds to ignore me and I started snapping. I think I took close to six hundred photos. The challenge of focusing on a moving target while in a rocking kayak is significant! May images were out of focus or had too much of the bird cut off or the composition wasn’t what I wanted. I have lots of pictures of tern butts (in case anyone is interested).
I was excited by the results of that challenge and glad I did it because I went back the next day and all the terns had left on their migration. I guess I have to wait until next summer to try again!
A few interesting facts about arctic terns are that they migrate from pole to pole; birds in North America travel over 40,000 kilometres each year, spending winter in Antarctica. They also live a long time upward of 30 years though they don’t start breeding until they are 3-4 years old. The oldest Arctic tern on record was 34 when it was recaptured and re-released during a banding operation in Maine.
That’s all for this week I hope you enjoyed the story and images.