The Magic of Wildlife Photography – A Morning With The Least Terns

As many of you know, I spend the vast majority of my spare time behind the camera enjoying what I call “the magic of wildlife photography”. As such, I am woefully behind in processing images that I have already taken. Case in point, today is September 3, 2012 and I’m just now processing images taken on June 3, 2012 when I spent some time with the least terns. I’m a full 3 months behind. Fortunately I haven’t done much shooting this summer as the birds are pretty much out of sight and hiding from the heat and I take full advantage of some down time to recharge my batteries.

But one of the joys of being this far behind is that I’ve forgotten about some of the shoots I have been on. It’s not that I’m senile and forgot that I went out, but I have forgotten some of the wonderful interactions that I have been able to capture and record. That brings me to today’s blog post. The following sequence is from my shoot on June 3, 2012 when I spent a morning with the Least Terns. I had forgotten all about this sequence and was quite excited to uncover it, relive the day and share it with you. Click on an image to view large.

The first image here shows a pair of Least Terns who look to be discussing some mundane subject or perhaps laughing at the photographers stationed outside the roped off area.

least terns

But this next image is where the magic happens. Suddenly one of the terns takes off to forage for breakfast and reveals a surprise for everyone.

least terns
Time To Go

We suspected there were eggs under the adult, but we were surprised to find a 1 day old chick and another egg. As quickly as mom (or was it dad?) takes off to go find breakfast, dad quickly takes over the chick-rearing duties.

least terns
Changing Of The Guard

Finally, after a few seconds of arranging the chick and egg just so, dad settles down to keep an eye on his progeny, protecting them from predators and ensuring the survival of the species.

least terns

It is moments like this, captured and preserved, that makes what I do all worthwhile. The early mornings, the long drives, the frustrating weather, the abrasive sand (yes, the sand gets everywhere on a beach shoot), and the consecutive shoots without getting a decent image…all of that is quickly forgotten and becomes part of the experience knowing that next time, you can bring home “the magic of photography”.


  • Gary DeFeyter

    September 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Isn’t nature great. Looking forward to some Oregon shots. I like these though.

    • Michael

      September 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      Oregon is coming, Gary! That’s the last week of June and I’m processing June now. Maybe I’ll have them done before you go to Yellowstone!

  • Jess Yarnell

    September 3, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Nice, Michael! What a cute little surprise you found there. I can’t wait for next year’s babies. 🙂

    • Michael

      September 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      Me too, Jess! We had so much fun this year…even without shoes. 🙂