Forster’s Tern after successful dive for prey – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
I have had fun photographing Forster’s Terns the last few times I have gone to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, they are graceful, beautiful terns and they challenge my skills. They fly fast, they hover and dive erratically and keeping track of them through a long lens is trying but whenever I can get photos of these terns I am always happy. My success rate for these terns is low, I probably toss out 100 images for every one I keep.
Their hunting success rate is much higher though, I would estimate that for every three dives they make they come up with prey twice. This adult Forster’s Tern in nonbreeding plumage came up with a tiny fish after it dove into the water at the end of August.
Forster’s Tern lifting off from water with prey – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
And it was easily able to lift off and it flew almost directly towards me. The tern swallowed its prey in flight before I lost focus on it because of some vegetation that was between me and the tern.
Forster’s Tern Facts and Information:
- Forster’s Terns are medium sized terns with white underparts and pale gray upperparts, short red legs, thin, orange bills with black tips and a black cap in breeding plumage. They have long, forked tails. In nonbreeding plumage they have a black comma shaped ear patch.
- Forster’s Terns are migratory although it is the only tern found in North America throughout the year.
- During the breeding season their preferred habit includes marshes with lots of open water and islands with vegetation.
- Forster’s Terns eat fish and small arthropods.
- Forster’s Terns lay 1 to 6 eggs which hatch in 23 to 25 days. Both sexes incubate and they are monogamous.
- A group of terns can be called a “ternery” of terns.
- Forster’s Terns can live up to 16 years.
Forster’s Terns are fun to photograph and I enjoy watching them in flight and catching prey. I used to photograph them in Florida during the winter along the shore if the Gulf of Mexico at Fort De Soto County Park. I am thinking a lot about Florida today as Hurricane Irma roars up the coast. My thoughts are with my friends and family there and everyone else who is hunkered down waiting for Irma to go past.