Gull Swallowing a Fish at 15 FPS

When we are out with our cameras capturing nature photographs it is beneficial to notice small, commonplace events as they can still produce interesting images. This article features a selection of images of a gull swallowing a fish at 15 FPS (frames per second).

Let’s start this short article with a few images of the gull with the fish in its beak to establish the relative size of the fish.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Frame 1, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 241 mm, efov 651 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 2, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 241 mm, efov 651 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 3, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 241 mm, efov 651 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-1000

As we can see from these first few captures, the gull has manipulated the fish into a ‘head first’ position in its beak in preparation for the bird swallowing it.

To create a feeling of immediacy and intimacy with these types of images it can be helpful to lower your camera down closer to the action. In this case I got on one knee and hunched down over my camera.

The next 14 photographs are consecutive images that were captured using a frame rate of 15 frames-per-second with a Nikon 1 V2 fitted with a 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens. I shot in Manual mode using continuous auto-focus (AF-C) with subject tracking, and Auto-ISO 160-6400. It took the gull a little over a second to swallow the fish.

Frame 4, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 5, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 6, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 7, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 8, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 9, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 10, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 11, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 12, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 13, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 14, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 15, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 16, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800
Frame 17, Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm, f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800

There were over a dozen other photographers on the same bridge where this gull was feeding. None of them paid any attention at all to this gull feeding, missing the opportunity to capture some images of this behaviour.

These photographs are not award winners, and due to the type of behaviour captured in the images, may not be of interest to everyone.

What they do illustrate is that if one is observant some interesting images can still be captured of commonplace birds ‘doing their thing’. You don’t have to spend a fortune travelling to exotic locations, or drain your bank account on high end telephoto gear, to have some fun photographing local wildlife.

Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held in available light using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection. All photographs are displayed as 100% captures without any cropping.

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles or any of the images contained in them on another website is a Copyright infringement.

My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work you can purchase an eBook, or make a modest $10 donation through PayPal, both are most appreciated. You can use the Donate button below. Larger donations can be made to tom@tomstirr.com through PayPal.

You can also support my efforts when you purchase anything from B&H by using the Thomas Stirr affiliate link. Even the smallest purchases will help support this web site.

As a reminder to our Canadian readers, you can get a special 5% discount when ordering Tamron or Rokinon lenses and other products directly from the Amplis Store by using promotion code AMPLIS52018TS.

Article and all images are Copyright 2018 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. While we do allow some pre-authorized links to our site from folks like Nikon Canada and Mirrorlessons.com, if you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending web sites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!

4 thoughts on “Gull Swallowing a Fish at 15 FPS”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I read your disclaimer that the images may not be to everyone’s liking BUT I’m utterly fascinated by the sequence. I thought the fish was a bit wide for the gull’s beak and throat but the images told me I was wrong 😀 Indeed, It made sense to gulp in the fish head first. On video, it can be easy to miss details like these but on your run at 15fps, it’s clear how the eating is done.

    Oggie

    1. Hi Oggie,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the images! My enjoyment level using fast frames rates like 60 FPS has been increasing the more I use it. Like you, I’ve been finding that being able to see individual frames that detail bird behaviour to be both fascinating and educational.
      Tom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *