Sandwich Tern in flight with prey – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/1250, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm at 400mm, natural light, not baited
This image Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis acuflavida ) was taken at Fort De Soto County Park’s north beach several years ago, it was a breezy, very warm day and there were schools of baitfish running just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a great day for practicing handheld flight photography.
Learning how to photograph birds in flight is definitely a challenge because you have to track the bird with your lens, anticipate what the bird might do or what direction it might fly. Then add exposure, shutter speed and locking on focus to that to achieve satisfactory results.
In a post titled “So ya think ya want to be a Bird Photographer” I mention several times that a bird photographer needs to practice, practice, practice and that is especially true of birds in flight. I also mention that bird photographers need tons of patience, probably more than you know.
If you live in an area where there are high numbers of birds, for instance; gulls, ducks or terns, you have great opportunities to practice with these birds in flight because there are so many of them and they take flight often. If you mess up another one will be flying by shortly. So my advice for those who are new to bird photography is to practice with local birds until you start nailing flight shots and delete the bad ones.
More Sandwich Tern images
Recently the AOU (American Ornithologists’ Union) changed the genus from Sterna to Thalasseus. These terns were originally called Cabot’s Terns but the common name changed to Sandwich Tern with the American Ornithologists’ Union 5th Edition (1957). The common name may change again because there are Sandwich Terns in both North America and in Europe but until that happens officially it is best; as it always is, to use the current common name found in up to date bird guides, BNA and the AOU so that novice birders and the general public know the current correct name.