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Antarctic tern (Sterna vittata) adult hovering above
and then dive-bombing to defend nest

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Antarctic terns nest on the Antarctic peninsula and also particularly on Antarctic islands
. It lays it's eggs in small quite widely spread out colonies, i.e. low density of birds in the colony. The nests are made on the ground in places that tend to be isolated but quite exposed. The eggs and the chicks are excellently camouflaged and the birds defend them from a distance so as not to draw attention to where the nest is.

The upper picture shows a tern hovering at the "nervous" stage when its nest is being approached maybe by a skua or other scavenger. Once the intruder gets too close for comfort then it dive-bombs as in the lower picture. No apologies for a lack of sharpness in this picture, this is exactly what it seems like. The term dives and builds up great speed before letting out an ear-piercing call that is perfectly timed to cause maximum panic and consternation. No matter how prepared you think you are, the first "attack" feels like it's removed some time from your life.

Terns feed on small fish and plankton, such as the ubiquitous krill.

Paul Ward - Pentax equipment, 70-210mm lens, 35mm film, K64.
This picture may not be copied or used in any manner without prior written permission.

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