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Gray-backed Tern, Midway Atoll

Gray-backed Tern  (Sterna lunata), Midway Atoll.  A fairly difficult species to get a decent picture of,  I found.   It seems that some bird species are not too bothered by the photographer who approaches in a quiet,  slow,  non threatening manner,  but this species tended to be rather skittish and wouldn’t tolerate a close approach.

Shot at a focal length of 700mm (the 500mm with a 1.4x converter),  the image still required significant cropping to get to get this final result.   The degree of cropping presented its own challenges as regards to processing the image,  particular care was necessary in the application of noise reduction and sharpening!

Gray-backed Tern (Sterna lunata), perched on a stone, Midway Atoll
Gray-backed Tern (Sterna lunata), perched on a stone, Midway Atoll

As a side note,  you'll notice the stone surface in the foreground of this image.   This is the surface of a World War Two era runway.   During the war,  Midway was home to the US Navy and the scene of a historically pivotal air and sea battle.    In the years that followed WW2,  the navy left the atoll which has been administered since by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and protected as a wildlife sanctuary.     Over the years nature has reclaimed the atoll with sand gradually building up and concealing the old runaway.    The Pacific tsunami of 2011,  which did such terrible damage to parts of Japan,  also impacted Midway,  one of the effects being that much sand was swept away revealing the old runway for the first time in decades.   ~KD.

For more information about the gray-backed terns of Midway Atoll.

2 thoughts on “Gray-backed Tern (Sterna lunata), Midway Atoll.”

Chip "Roket Man" Allen says: 29 February, 2012 at 12:31 pm That’s an amazing shot, KD!

KD says: 29 February, 2012 at 10:42 pm Thanks Chip.