Special Delivery

I drove up and parked close to this gravel berm that is next to the rocky beach and was grabbing my gear with the intent to go down to the beach and see if I could get some action shots of the terns that were fishing in the area. I grabbed my camera from the passenger’s seat and when I turned to get out of the truck I saw that this Arctic Tern had landed on the berm within ~15 ft. of me and was crouched down and periodically screaming. instead of leaving the vehicle, I rolled down the window started shooting photos of her. I was caught by surprise the first time that it became obvious what was going on. Another Tern (its mate) suddenly appeared with a small fish in it’s beak and delivered it to the first Tern then disappeared to get more. Once I realized what was going on, I was prepared for the next arrival and captured a whole sequence of the feeding operation. This image is my favorite of the sequence because it shows the aerobatics involved in the mid air hand-off of the fish. I will be posting the 7-photo sequence in the avian Gallery section for those who are interested.

Sony a6500, SEL100400GM @ 221 mm, ISO-100, f/5.6, 1/4000, hand held.

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1 Like

Great action shot; perfect timing. And the detail is outstanding. I also like the setting and the color of the water seems to fit in nicely.

Wonderful image. Just enough space between the pair to really make this work. Congrats on this superb image.

Super shot, great action, really tells the story well. I really like the body positions of the terms and the colors in the grasses.

Tough to pick a favorite, but I agree that this shot shows off the acrobatics involved really well, and is also the best depiction of the imminent exchange. Nice work, Gary.


This is cool, Gary. I love the kind of quirky flight pose you caught, nicely illustrates the action.

Thanks, Max. It was particularly tough between this one and the next one in the series (now posted in the Avian Gallery) which shows the one split second where both of them had a grip on the fish at the same moment.

Excellent behavioral capture with a good front view look of the tern and the prize it’s delivering. Techs are spot-on as well. Nice work Gary.

Really nice behavioral capture Gary. Love seeing the tiny fish in the beak about to be handed off. The wing position you caught really shows off the maneuvering that was going on. Terrific image.

Oh wow, what a shot, Gary! I will have to check out the shot in the gallery, I didn’t think it could get any better than this!

Excellent job with the posted image on the series. I agree with you that you pick the right one to post in the critique forum. Amazing detail and a super catch. I don’t know if it’s possible but it would be nice to see the eye being a little more prominent. I understand that even under the best of circumstances, this isn’t an easy task. I have Caspian Terns in my area and it is almost impossible to make the eye stand out.

That is gorgeous, Gary. Excellent work with perfect framing and that blue water makes a great background. I’ll definitely check out the sequence.

Thanks, David. Yes, the light has to be just right for the eyeball to show up against that jet black head cap. All you can do is take a lot of shots and hope for a good one with the eyes showing. You can sometimes get an eye to show up if you bring up the shadows a bit in post but they’re still not real obvious.