A courting couple. In the Austral spring the
males go looking for mates, and the females put them through their
paces to assess their suitability and tenacity.
The courtship ritual consists initially of a male
snow petrel following a female as she flies around the nesting area
which is frequently a rocky outcrop or cliff with suitable ledges
or nest holes. The female then leads him around the cliffs in a
high speed aerial ballet, climbing and diving, flying almost into
the cliff face at full speed before changing direction with an imperceptible
twist of the wing. The poor beleaguered male not only has to match
this aeronautical master class, but he has to do it as close as
possible to the female and without a script. Many seem to give up
and get left behind, certainly in the early days. In this picture
the male is calling to the female during a relatively relaxed moment.
Photographing this requires a lens on fixed focus,
bright light, fast shutter, small aperture, a pile of film and much
cursing. Even then, it all happens so quickly that you don't really
know what you've got until the film is developed.
Paul Ward - Pentax equipment, 80-210mm
lens, 35mm film, E100
This picture may not be copied or used
in any manner without prior written permission.