Why so Special...

This past week I spent my final week of summer holidays in the beautiful town of Terrecenville with my family. The weather for the week was looking nasty as Hurricane Bertha was suppose to pass off shore and send buckets of rain our way and wind. The first few days of the trip were suppose to be sunny and calm so I took full advantage and was on the hunt for something to photograph.

The main subject for this trip was a small group of Caspian terns that show up each year between in August but only stay until the first part of Sept. To my knowledge and from lack of reports in the bird community this is probably the only place on the island that you can get up close looks at this species as they are uncommon. To my disappointment I was unable to locate even one in the first two days. To be honest I wasn't having much luck with anything and with the weather getting closer it was looking like a very unproductive trip. The only decent image in the two days was a single Downy Woodpecker which was nice because I've never photographed one before.

On the evening of our third day thunder clouds had moved in but left a pocket of clear sky for the sun to set in. I decided to try my luck and head down to the "Meadow" and see if any terns had shown up. Sure enough one was there. Gliding along the shoreline looking for food. I made a slow approach in my CR-V to the waters edge..got out my gear and the scene was set...dramatic background clouds, golden hour light and target bird.

For the first half hour there were only 2 Caspien terns fishing along the shoreline. They would only search about a 40 yard radius up one end of the shore and then back down again. I was parked right in the middle of this 40 yards so as they passed I would capture as many frames as I could

Once a fish was spotted they would hover over it for about 5 secs then tuck their wings in

and plunge into the water.

This all happens very fast so it wasn't easy keeping them in the frame while they plunged. As you can probably tell the above sequence was from various attempts.

Occasionally they would be successful and rise from the water with a tasty treat

One of the biggest challenges I had in photographing them during their dives was the change in exposure...from blue sky to background hills to water...if I kept my exposure as it was when the sky was the background it would be unexposed when they dropped out of the sky and the background was the hills or the water. So as they dropped from the sky I would lower my shutter speed just slightly to properly expose the scene. Which allowed me to capture images like this one

2014_CaspienTern_Aug_7.jpg

About half way through my session I had made my way out of the vehicle and was sitting on the ground with my back against my rear tire. On occasion the terns would take a short rest on the shore providing opportunities for a few portrait shots. 

The sun was slowly fading away and it was becoming to difficult to get enough shutter speed to freeze the birds motion. Before the sun was completely gone I captured a few quick shots of my location. The first image shows what was happening behind me and on the right side of the image was the shoreline the terns were fishing along.

The next image was shot 2 seconds later and just to the left of the above image. This is the town of Terrenceville with the moon just above.

2014_CaspienTern_Aug_13.jpg

By the end of the session I had a total of 7 terns fishing along the shore and providing some amazing photo ops. It was the perfect evening.