A Pleasant Surprise!

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake parent and baby in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 500mm, f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

After a rough start to the day with heavy winds coming from the east and a steady rain with cold temperatures, we had a heart-warming experience at the end of the day that I will remember forever.  I will warn you that some of the photos will be a little graphic and if you have a sensitive stomach, you will probably not want to look at them around meal times.  🙂

We explored a couple spots around town in the morning to try to find some birds to photograph, but we were not as successful as we had hoped. In the afternoon, the eastern winds conflicted with the direction of the sunlight.  Since birds face and fly into the wind, they would be flying east as the sun set in the western sky, so any photos we attempted of birds in flight would create a dark head–not an appealing image.  Anita and I decided to head back out to the bird cliffs at Ekkerøy just to practice our skills.  When we got there around 5pm, my heart sank as I saw this on the ground.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake eggs, iPhone 7 Plus

Many of the nests were occupied with the other gull in the pair flying about or resting on boulders.  I had hoped that the storm and strong winds did not knock the eggs out.  I looked up and saw one bird standing up in its nest.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake parent and egg in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 500mm, f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

It was a beautiful sight to see the kittiwake tending to its egg.  Then I heard Anita cry out in joy!

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake parent and baby calling in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 500mm, f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

We had babies!  We were so excited!  The longer we watched the cliffs, the more babies we saw.  Some nests had double surprises!

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake parent and babies in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 500mm, f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

Shortly after this, we began seeing nature at its best.  One of the babies pecked at its parent’s beak to signal its hunger.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake parent and baby pecking in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 500mm, f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

The parent responded to its baby by beginning the feeding process.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake parent and baby feeing in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 500mm, f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake parent and baby feeding in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 500mm, f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

It was fascinating to see this right in front of me and capture this special moment.  Little did I know that I would get another special moment in just a few minutes.

As I scanned several nests on the cliffs. I watched the babies stir around and the parents tend to the babies as they stretched their wings or pecked to be fed.  One nest in front of me had a baby that appeared to be very close to the edge.  I was getting worried as it backed up to the edge, but then I learned a couple very important lessons-never stand under a nest and instincts are powerful.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake parent and baby defecating in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm at 500mm, f/6.3, 1/400 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held

Quick reflexes allowed me to capture this defecation on camera!  I was impressed that the baby knew to “go” off the side of the nest and I learned how the parent helped this activity.

Let’s just say that that is the end of this session!  🙂

 

 

Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Amy Novotny is a physical therapist, marathon/ultra runner and nature photographer. She treats patients for a variety of conditions but specializes in chronic pain and calming an overactive nervous system using special diaphragmatic breathing. She has used this technique to help her qualify and run in four Boston marathons! She enjoys the outdoors and can often be found running and hiking on trails in throughout Arizona. She attempts to capture the beauty of nature with her photography both locally in Arizona and also throughout the United States. She is becoming more interested in wildlife photography and attempting to capture the emotion of animal interactions. In her spare time, Amy volunteers as a photo guide for the Arizona Highways PhotoScapes nonprofit and shares her joy of nature with others. Please feel free to contact her regarding her photography, physical therapy or running.

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