Special Delivery

One of my favorites of the year is actually a sequence rather than a single shot. I had the opportunity to witness and photograph this mating ritual performed by a pair of Arctic Terns. The female settled down very close to me on the bank above the bay and started calling. Very shortly, a male showed up carrying a small fish and delivered it to her without hardly slowing down. It caught me by surprise so I missed the action. I guessed that he would be back with another fish because the female was still calling so I was ready when he returned with another fish. Unfortunately that time I was zoomed in too close and ended up clipping a lot of wings during the delivery sequence. The third time was the charm. I was focused in and zoomed out and just held the button down when the male showed up with yet another fish. This whole sequence took less than a second!

All frames: Sony a6500, FE100400GM @ 221 mm, ISO-100, f/5.6, 1/4000, hand held.

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Gary, these are an outstanding sequence and fit very well with your post from a month ago. Picking a favorite is quite the challenge (and probably not necessary), but I’ll go ahead and say that the head turn and posture of the bird in the air in shot #2 add that little extra to separate it just a hair from the rest. When wild animals let us humans deeply into their lives, it’s always a huge treat. How cool that you got 3 chances.

Thanks, Mark! No. 2 is my favorite of the series also for the same reasons. It’s also different because you can see that he’s applying the air brakes in order to pause for a split second to hand off the fish.

#2 and 5 are my favorites from your series. The poses set them apart from the others…Jim

I remember your post of this sequence, Gary. It’s simply superb. My favorite is the second image with those super dynamic wing positions on the male, but I’d be happy to get any one of them, let alone the sequence.

Oh my Gary. What a fantastic opportunity and fantastic job capitalizing on it!

Like you and the others, #2 is awesome and my favorite. Of course they are all amazing. #6 stands out to me as well - mostly given the sweeping curve of the male hovering - just looks cool.


Amazing to get this close to the action. A very compelling series with excellent color, detail, BG, and of course action.