On June 25th, I made the trip up to Sheboygan to look for the reported Laughing Gulls which I do not have in the state of Wisconsin. I did not see any Laughing Gulls but did stumble upon a Alewife (a small herring-like fish) die-off that had American White Pelicans, Caspian and Common Terns, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Bonaparte’s Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls in a feeding frenzy.
I found myself in a perfect situation for some great high speed photography with the Caspian Terns as they dove into Lake Michigan to feed on the Alewives. They were close, the lighting was fantastic and they continued to dive for at least three hours. I decided that I wanted to get a picture of a tern right as its bill first broke the surface of the water. I took over 1,400 pictures that afternoon and I had many pictures right before and right after but had to really work to get the EXACT moment I wanted.
I begin with the huge but graceful American White Pelicans which were doing quite well fishing in their own right! They have a nine foot wingspan and weigh sixteen and-a -half pounds! One of the largest birds in North America.
I did see quite a few gulls, including Ring-billed Gulls.
There were a few of the very large Great Black-backed Gulls as well.
There wee many Bonaparte’s Gulls all over the place.
I saw a few of the small Common Terns as well.
But the star of the afternoon were the Caspian Terns. Because the lighting was so great, I was able to shoot with a shutter speed of 1/3200th of a second and that, combined with my 11 frames per second shutter speed, allowed me to freeze the motion during their dives.
Caspian Terns are the largest of all the worlds terns.
And finally the ultimate shot! This Caspian Tern has just broken the surface of Lake Michigan with its bill. Ever since I began photographing birds, I have hoped to be able to take this very picture.