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Hand Over Your Sandeels!

Hand Over Your Sandeels!
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: 2008-06-07
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MkII, Canon 400mm 2.8 IS
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/1000 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): CeltickRanger's favorite Bird photos -2- [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-06-14 8:05
Viewed: 4449
Points: 38
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This Herring Gull is waiting to ambush returning Guillemots and steal their sandeels. The gull is peering down at the agitated guillemots on the ledge below. Taken with my 400mm 2.8 and using a monopod.

The Herring Gull, Larus argentatus, is a large gull (up to 26 inches or 66 cm long) and is the most abundant and best known of all gulls along the shores of Asia. western Europe, and North America. It breeds across North America, Europe and Asia. Some Herring Gulls, especially those resident in colder areas, migrate further south in winter, but many are permanent residents, e.g. those on the lower Great Lakes, on the east coast of North America or at the North Sea shores. Herring Gulls are also abundant around inland garbage dumps, and some have even adapted to life in inland cities.

The average Herring Gull is 55-66 cm (22-26 inches) long with a wingspan of 138-150 cm. Adults in breeding plumage have a grey back and upperwings and white head and underparts. The wingtips are black with white spots known as "mirrors" . The bill is yellow with a red spot and there is a ring of bare yellow skin around the pale eye. The legs are normally pink at all ages but can be yellowish, particularly in the Baltic population which was formerly regarded as a separate subspecies "L. a. omissus". Non-breeding adults have brown streaks on the head and neck. Male and female plumage is identical at all stages of development, however adult males are often larger.

Juvenile and first-winter birds are mainly brown with darker streaks and have a dark bill and eyes. Second-winter birds have a whiter head and underparts with less streaking and the back is grey. Third-winter individuals are similar to adults but retain some of the features of immature birds such as brown feathers in the wings and dark markings on the bill.

Herring Gull flocks have a loose pecking order, based on size, aggressiveness and physical strength. Communication between these birds is complex and highly-developed - employing both calls and body language. Two identical vocalizations can have very different (sometimes opposite) meanings, for example - depending on the positionings of the head, body, wings and tail relative to each other and the ground in the calling gull.

Unlike many flocking birds, Herring Gulls do not engage in social grooming and keep physical contact between individuals to a minimum. Outside of the male/female and parent/chick relationship, each Herring Gull attempts to maintain a respectful 'safe distance' from others of its kind. Any breach of this results in fighting, though severe injuries are seldom inflicted.

Herring Gulls are known to be capable of seeing ultraviolet light.

Two to four eggs, usually three, are laid on the ground or cliff ledges in colonies, and are defended vigorously by this large gull. The eggs are a dark blotched, olive color. They are incubated for 28-30 days.

Juveniles use their beaks to "knock" on the red spot on the beaks of adults to indicate hunger. Parents typically disgorge food for their offspring when they are "knocked". The young birds are able to fly 35-40 days after hatching.

jaycee, zulfu, nglen, boreocypriensis, mariki, goldyrs, CatherineD, marhowie, NinaM, CeltickRanger, rcrick, Argus, eqshannon, SueThomson has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To joey: CourseJamesp 1 06-14 13:49
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-06-14 8:36]

Hi James,

He certainly looks intent on watching those Guillemots The Herring Gull is beautiful with excellent colors and details. The pose is marvelous. A wonderful nature scene with great notes to explain what is happening.


  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2008-06-14 8:58]

Hello James, perfect shot in all aspects. TFS. Greetings,

Your money or your life ...

Nice shot James. It doesn't look like the Gull knows who to pick on first. All aspects are first class as ever.


P.S Have been away all week but have just picked up my mail. Appreciate you thinking of me and hopefully things are running their natural corse.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-06-14 9:33]

Hi james. I like the compostion in this one with the Gull looking down at the Guillemots.Once again a good shot with the 400 and converter. good colours and detail. TFS.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-06-14 9:47]

Hello James,
Very beautiful shot and superb focus. Well presented. Ganesh

Hi my beloved friend James,

Excellent capture with superb details, nice DOF and POV. TFS. Cheers,


Very beautiful shot of this lovely bird,James!
excellent POV/DOF...

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-06-14 13:47]
  • [+]

Hahaha! :-D Very original and unique capture, James :-)
I love how the Guillemots are warning the Seagull not to come closer while the Gull seems completely unperturbed (that's the first time I've EVER used that word!) by them :-)
Excellent composition.
Superb DOF.
Very, very sharp.

Well done, James!!


p.s anymore on the photography course thing?

Hello James,
Very interesting scene with nice pose and colours. Very good note, full of information. Best regards,

Great technique James, nice & sharp.
A most difficult exposure combination, but you managed it very well with proper exposure of those light/dark areas..
Interesting scene and comp, I like it :)

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-06-14 17:27]

Ho James, this is the sweetest gull picture I have ever seen, and the composition and everything in it is superb, beautiful, touching. I could only say "Beauty" to decribe it. Thank you, your great equipment is always used to its full with your sensitive eyes,


Hello James...
This is content, James.
Beautiful as well; very effective diagonal compo.
Well done

Hi James,

Excellent work on this shot mate, perfect POV, love the intense look on there faces, and the Herring Gull just looks awesome, superb colours, stunning detail, really well framed and composed, all the best,

Cheers Rick :)

Hello James,

Excellent composition. The professor (the Herring Gull) is talking to his students (the Guillemots) :-). Excellent POV, DOF and sharpness. Very good colours.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-06-15 1:41]

Great capture, James!
Herring Gulls are opportunist feeders and as this caption suggests, would willingly pinch a captured sandeel from a guillemot. They also wait to hack at their eggs or take chicks. I like how the gull contrasts with the dark BG and the row of gullemots heads below him showing their anxiety.
Nice one and thanks for sharing it.

hello James

AOUTCH ! this shot is another one of yours that is a perfect
National Geographic's photo, great nature shot of the life of birds,
with fine POV, great contrast, sharpness and details, TFS

i love your great image, TFS


I shall let you know when it arrives:-) US is slow and so are some airlines with the cost of gas...but this is another of your super fine images..it is almost as though something has let the real good quality images out of your secret laboratory! this one is VERY special James!

Hi James
Well done on this awesome capture. It really cracks me up...fantastic work!. Good focussing and detail.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-06-17 7:49]

Hello James

A super capture of this highwayman.
Excellent detail and sharpness.
The lighting is well utilized.
Super pov.


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