Long Distance Champion

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.


Note, I hit the “publish” icon a bit prematurely tonight, so you will receive an incomplete and a complete version of tonight’s post.  My bad.

No bird migrates a greater distance than the Arctic Tern.  This species makes an annual round trip migration from the Arctic to the Antarctic, a distance of over 22 thousand miles.  They breed in the Arctic, and we were lucky enough to catch these birds at the height of their breeding season.

These are relatively small birds, not much bigger than a robin or a mockingbird, but extraordinarily energetic.  Arctic Terns are superb fliers.  Not only are they capable of flying tremendous distances but they are fast and extremely maneuverable in the air.  An Arctic Tern can hover in place, then dive vertically into the water to capture its prey, then launch itself from the water back into the air.

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The terns that we encountered were indifferent to us.  It was possible to walk within a few feet of these birds as they perched on the ground, particularly when they were engaged in courtship behavior.

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Courtship is a noisy affair.  The male struts, preens, flaps its wings, and calls raucously.

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Females, if receptive, simply wait patiently for their lovers to consummate the affair.

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All photos taken with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture preferred setting, ISO, shutter speeds and apertures varied.


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