Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, contests and more!
Start Your Free Trial

How a photographer on a New Jersey beach recorded a Least Tern’s hidden treasures

Least Terns ©2014 Melissa Groo
Least Terns ©2014 Melissa Groo

If you’ve read our October issue, you probably saw the captivating photo by Melissa Groo on page 13 of a Least Tern with two youngsters snuggling beneath its wings. Here, as the saying goes, is the rest of the story.

Groo shot the photo on the morning of July 16 at a Least Tern colony near Ocean City, New Jersey. “It was a gray day, and as I scanned this busy colony in search of something interesting to photograph,” she says, “I noticed movement under the wings of a tern. I realized she was brooding two tiny chicks that still had their egg teeth. I set up just outside the roped-off area and was able to capture this sweet scene.”

Todd Pover, manager of the Beach Nesting Bird Project at the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey tells us the colony was the most successful in the state this year. No fewer than 300 adult terns were present, and they fledged nearly 250 young.

The success was largely a result of low predator activity at the colony and what appeared to be a healthy availability of prey, he says.

Groo used the following equipment and settings to take the photo:

Camera: Canon 1DX
Lens: 500mm f/4 with 2x teleconverter
Gear: Gitzo 3530LS tripod and Wimberley Gimbal head
Settings: 1/1000 sec, 1000mm, f/8, ISO 1000.

Learn more

Visit Melissa Groo’s website and follow her on Facebook.

Read about the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey’s work to protect beach-nesting birds.

Find Hotspots Near You in New Jersey

 Photo of the Week: Least Tern in flight on Plum Island, Massachusetts

This photo appeared in the October 2014 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe.

Originally Published

Read our newsletter!

Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, and more delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up for Free