Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fairy Tern Success

On Friday, I decided to drive up to Orford to see how the Fairy Tern colony was fairing, and get some more photographs. What I hadn't thought of was that the area would be covered in smoke from the Wielangta Forest/ Kellevie area fires. The same smoke that covers much of the South East of Tasmania. Perfectly OK for seeing how the terns were going, not too good for photography. To cut a long story short, I detoured to Little Swanport, where conditions were marginally better and spent a few hours there, and I'll blog something on that later. The detour proved fortuitous, as by the time I returned to Orford, a fairly strong sea breeze had come up, and the smoke had pretty much cleared. I spent the next hour or so, watching and photographing the Fairy Terns. The good news was that there appeared to be around 10 or so juveniles on the wing. Priscilla Park, who arrived some time later, counted 9. If your looking for a challenge, you could do worse than attempt to photograph flying Fairy Terns! Very frustrating, with a high percentage of failures. Thank goodness I'm not shooting with film. I spent some time trying to photograph the juveniles in particular,(bottom 2 shots at right) as they tried their hand at fishing. Looking at the shots of the juveniles, it wouldn't be too difficult to think they're of a completely different species of tern, as they look distinctly different from their parents. The youngsters seemed to have grasped the rudiments of fishing, but although they dived, they appeared to only pick food off the surface, and I didn't observe any plunge below the surface.
I also noted some nuptial feeding (one adult presenting a fish to another), so it's possible some pairs may attempt a second clutch. This feeding ritual may, of course, be restricted to unsuccessful pairs. Either way, with the holiday period fast approaching, there will be considerably more human disturbance at this site. More good news was the approximately 6 pairs that appear to be nesting at Little Swanport, where they too will have much to contend with over the holiday. Beautiful birds, among my favourites. Please click on the images to enlarge and see their full beauty.


aviceda said...

Fantastic images, about time there were more Tassie birds on the net!

Any chance of uploading some of these to the ABID?

BirdingTas said...

Thanks for the compliment! I have considered adding some images to the ABID site--they do appear on the birdpedia site. Have you ever considered exercising some "editorial" control over images added? I know this might be rather 'controversial', but with the advent of digital photography and the ease of getting images, might some 'pruning' of a few of the images, be appropriate?