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Franz Josef Land Little Auk

Franz Josef Land Little Auk
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2004-07-24
Categories: Birds
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/250 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Franz Josef Land [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-08-21 6:36
Viewed: 5248
Points: 32
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Little Auk, or Dovekie (Alle alle), is a small auk, the only member of the genus Alle. It breeds on islands in the high Arctic. There are two subspecies: A. a. alle breeds in Greenland, Iceland, Novaya Zemlya and Spitzbergen, and A. a. polaris on Franz Josef Land - which is this one.

This was a very lucky shot. I had walked up to the top of some cliffs and when I got there looked over and saw this Little Auk looking up at me. Usually they fly off, at what seems to be, the speed of bullets.
Their breeding habitat is coastal mountainsides, where they have huge colonies. They nest in crevices or beneath large rocks, usually laying just one egg. They move south in winter into northern areas of the north Atlantic. Late autumn storms may carry them south of their normal wintering areas, or into the North Sea.

This is the only Atlantic auk of its size, half the size of the Atlantic Puffin at 19-21 cm in length, with a 34-38 cm wingspan. Adult birds are black on the head, neck, back and wings with white underparts. The bill is very short and stubby. They have a small rounded black tail. The lower face and fore neck become white in winter.

The flight is direct, with fast whirring wing beats due to the short wings. These birds forage for food like other auks by swimming underwater. They mainly eat crustaceans especially copepods, but also other small invertebrates along with small fish. They collect in large swarms before leaving their breeding rocks to head out to sea for food as well as when they return.
Little Auks produce a variety of twitters and cackling calls at the breeding colonies, but are silent at sea.

Large numbers of Little Auks have been killed in several oil-spill incidents. Over-fishing has little effect, because their prey is mainly crustaceans, but climate changes (warming) in Southern Greenland and Iceland seems to be the reason for the decreasing populations there. The Glaucous Gull and the Arctic Fox are the main predators on Little Auks, and in some cases the Polar Bear has also been reported to feed on their eggs (Isaksen & Gavrilo 2000).

This was taken with a Canon 10D and has been cropped.

cataclysta, vanderschelden, rousettus, gracious, nglen, haraprasan, gannu, Debz, Necipp has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2007-08-21 7:24]

Hi James,
a very sharp shot with beautiful colours.
Brilliant colours and a great DOF.
Well done,

selam james , excellent shot and very good composition of this auk nice pov and bg with splendid colours.good details presented
Well done !
Regards ridvan

Nice light very good sharpnes good compsition. Very nice elegant presentation with perfect buckground
Best greatings

hello james,
nice shot, sharp image, liked the composition , dof and the pov too,
tfs & regards

Hello James,
That is what they call "looking the other way":-)
Very good sharpness and light. Nice background. Good compo...

Hi James,
great details and sharpness. nice colors, POV and nicely composed. BG also very good.
you show us many kind of animals and landscape all over the world. many thanks for all posts of yours.
best wishes

Hello James,
very sharp with great lighting!
good DOF and POV
very well done

You managed nice sharpness against a neutral background. I like the way all the colors tone together. The little fellow looks sleepy. Maybe it didn't fly away because it was asleep : )... not likely, but possible.

Evelynn ; )

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-08-21 18:25]

Hello James

Love this shot,my mother used to call me "the little auk" when I was a kid.I guess I used to protest by blurting out "AWK".Very nice composition with the diagonal pose.The focus and details are sharp.I like the colour palette too.The BG is fantastic.Wonderful DOF and POV.TFS


  • Great 
  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2007-08-21 23:04]

Hello James,
Very beautiful Auk, great POV and
well composed picture, great sharpness


Hi James,
A beautiful bird and most probably seeing it first time here. Nicely captured with excellent details and POV. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-08-22 1:33]

Hi James. you sounded lucky to get this picture.a very unusal looking bird one i have never seen so thanks for posting. you have captured good detail and colours.with a nice POV. well done good notes too.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2007-08-22 3:40]

James, very nice shot and cute little looking eyes. The focus is very good and also the POV. Ganesh

  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-08-25 5:46]

Hi James, a very unusual bird here. Very nice plumage. Great pov and very well focused. Nice and sharp with good light and colour.

Hello James looks like I missed this one very sharp and close the birds expression fits the POV like its sulking did u upsset it :-) nice detail and good background contrast good to see you are back seemed a little quiet here recently tfs rgds Necip.

This is very interesting as I have never seen this bird before. As you said you were lucky and so close... Details and composition are very good. The white is a little OE but I wonder how you could have done it differently as the bird is half in the shadow. As usual, those notes are much interesting. Thanks,

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