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Inspiring and Supporting Photographers of Australian Birds

Australian Shelduck, Whiskered Tern

Australian Shelduck, Whiskered Tern (Image ID 45305)
Photographed byMichael Hamel-Green on Wed 10th Mar, 2021 and uploaded on Fri 12th Mar, 2021 .
Resolution1146x1800
Viewed86
ID45305
CommentIt’s raining Terns! I watched as a huge cloud of Whiskered Terns that were settled close to the Australian Shelducks on the Western Lagoon suddenly took off, and then wheeled around directly towards me. It was extraordinary how they all turned at the same moment, perfectly in unison as the image shows. How do they synchronize? Do they have a leader who gives the first signal (a Tern “Trump” whose mass base follows his every tweet)? Apparently not, zoologists now believe that birds anticipate changes in direction just as dancers do in choreographed routines. They see a changing wave of direction within the flock and anticipate how they need to respond rather than being cued by any particular breakaway bird. As for the imperturbable harlequin-coloured Australian Shelducks in the foreground, they seemed quite undisturbed by the aerial manoeuvres above. No doubt midday is Shelduck nap time after all their foraging and dabbling during the morning.
EquipmentNikonZ7 Nikon Z 24-200mm f4-6.3 135mm ISO 200 1/640th f14 Monopod
LocationWerribee Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria
Keywordsin flight, adult, behaviour/display
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