Migrating Shorebirds fly to the Tundra

Yes a great deal of the shorebirds that we see during our summer vacations and all winter long fly thousands of miles to the tundra in order to mate and breed.  Part of this process is the courtship of the males and females to choose their partners and then nest and mate.

One of my favourites is the Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus).  The Whimbrel is not an easy bird to spot as its plumage blends extremely well with the grasses of the tundra marshlands where it nests.  Fortunately I had Louise with me who proved to be an excellent spotter.  We made a few forays into the tundra marsh with our hip-boots on and then inched our way towards the targets, making clicks as we progressed, trying not to flush them, until I had the images I wanted.  I found that I could usually get to about 25 feet from the bird before it flew off.

 (Richard William King)

However, on one of these stalks I had just reached the 25 foot distance when a Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) decided to buzz the pair of Whimbrels I was shooting.  One took off immediately shortly followed by the second which landed only 12 feet from me!  Fortunately I was set on rapid fire and just let the D4 rip!

When the threat had moved on the pair of Whimbrels returned to the spot they were in when the attack happened.

Gear” Nikon D4, Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII, Nikkor TC-20E III, RRS Tripod & Gimbal Head, Lexar digital film,

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