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Lunch hour

Lunch hour
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2013-08-05
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D90, Sigma 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/1000 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Animals feeding, part two [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2013-08-18 5:23
Viewed: 2907
Points: 52
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
My second posting of Puffins.
One of the parents comes flying to the almost full grown chicks with a beak full of sand eels.

A new piece of information:
Having spent the winter alone on the ocean, it is unclear whether the Atlantic Puffin meets its previous partner offshore or whether they first encounter each other when they return to their nest of the previous year. On land, they soon set about improving and clearing out the burrow. Often, one stands outside the entrance while the other excavates, kicking out quantities of soil and grit that showers the partner standing outside. Some birds collect stems and fragments of dry grasses as nesting materials but others do not bother. Sometimes a beakful of materials is taken underground, only to be brought out again and discarded. Apart from nest-building, the other way in which the birds restore their bond is by billing. This is a practice in which the pair approach each other, each wagging its head from side to side, and then rattle their beaks together. This seems to be an important element of their courtship behaviour because it happens repeatedly, and the birds continue to bill, to a lesser extent, throughout the breeding season.

The Atlantic Puffin is sexually mature at the age of four to five years. The birds are colonial nesters, excavating burrows on grassy clifftops or reusing existing holes, and may also nest in crevices and amongst rocks and scree on occasion. They are monogamous (they mate for life) and give biparental care to their young. The male spends more time guarding and maintaining the nest while the female is more involved in incubation and feeding the chick.

Egg-laying starts in April in more southerly colonies but seldom occurs before June in Greenland. The female lays a single egg each year but if this is lost early in the breeding season, it may be replaced by another.
Synchronous laying of eggs is found in Atlantic Puffins in adjacent burrows. The egg is large compared to the size of the bird, averaging 61 millimetres long by 42 millimetres wide and weighing about 62 grams. The white shell is usually devoid of markings but soon becomes soiled with mud. The incubation responsibilities are shared by both parents. They each have two feather-free brood patches on their undersides where an enhanced blood supply provides additional heat for the egg. The parent on incubation duty in the dark nest chamber spends much of its time asleep with its head tucked under its wing, occasionally emerging from the tunnel to flap dust out of its feathers or take a short flight down to the sea.
Total incubation time is around 3945 days. From the surface, the first evidence that hatching has taken place is the arrival of an adult with a beak-load of fish. These are dropped on the floor of the nest beside the chick which swallows them whole. The chick is covered in fluffy black down and its eyes are open and it can stand as soon as it is hatched. Initially weighing about 42 grams, it grows at the rate of 10 grams per day. It sleeps much of the time between visits by its parents and also involves itself in bouts of exercise. It rearranges its nesting material, picks up and drops small stones, flaps its immature wings, pulls at protruding root ends and pushes and strains against the unyielding wall of the burrow. It makes its way towards the entrance or along a side tunnel to defecate. The growing chick seems to anticipate the arrival of an adult, advancing along the burrow just before it arrives but not emerging into the open air. It retreats to the nest chamber as the adult bird brings in its load of fish.

Feeding areas are often located 100 km or more, offshore from the nest sites, although when provisioning their young, the birds venture out only half that distance. It has been found that adults bringing fish to their chicks tend to arrive in clumps. This is thought to benefit the bird by reducing kleptoparasitism by the Arctic Skua which harasses Puffins until they drop their fish loads. Predation by the Great Skua (Catharacta skua) is also reduced by several birds arriving simultaneously.

In the Shetland Islands, sand eels (Ammodytes marinus) normally form at least 90% of the food fed to chicks. It was found that, in years where the availability of sand eels was low, breeding success rates fell, with many chicks starving to death. In Norway it is the herring (Clupea harengus) that is the mainstay of the diet. When herring numbers dwindled, so did Puffin numbers. In Labrador the Puffins seemed more flexible and when the staple forage fish capelin (Mallotus villosus) declined in availability, they were able to adapt and feed the chicks on other prey species.

The chicks take from 34 to 50 days to fledge, the period depending on the abundance of their food supply. In years of fish shortage, the whole colony may experience a longer fledgling period but the normal range is 38 to 44 days, by which time chicks will have reached about 75% of their mature body weight. Although the supply of fish by the adults reduces over the last few days spent in the nest, the chick is not abandoned as happens in the Manx Shearwater. On occasions, an adult has been observed provisioning a nest even after the chick has departed. During the last few days underground, the chick sheds its down and the adult plumage is revealed. Its relatively small beak and its legs and feet are a dark colour and it lacks the white facial patches of the adult. The chick leaves its nest at night, when the risk of predation is at its lowest. When the moment arrives, it emerges from the burrow, usually for the first time, and walks, runs and flaps its way to the sea. It cannot fly properly yet so descending a cliff is perilous; when it reaches the water it paddles out to sea, and may be three kilometres (two miles) out to sea by daybreak. It does not congregate with others of its kind and will not return to land for two or three years.

Source: Wikipedia

ramthakur, CeltickRanger, maaciejka, Hotelcalifornia, kinglove, AKBAR-ALI-ASIF, anel, pierrefonds, indrasish, marius-secan, Alex99, josediogo1958 has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

People normally post portrait images of a Puffin, so this is a nice experience to see them in full size and that too as a family, Peter.
The parent ready to alight with food for the chicks looks grand.
Thanks for sharing yet another prize image from your trip to Iceland.

Hello Peter

First of all I want to tell that this photo of you
it is becoming the 20000th critique/comment
I am giving in TN !

Excellent timing from you to shoot this scenery
in photo, with fine POV, and when the subjects
are diagonally framed in the photos, it always
gives dynamism to the image like this photo, TFS


Hello Peter,
An amazing composition with lots of details,perfectly exposed and lovely colours luminosity.

hallo Peter
leuke compositie met veel te zien van deze familie
super kleuren en goed van scherpte dacht van iets meer maar het blijft een pracht plaatje

gr lou

Hello Peter,
Wohh what a beautiful moment you have captured.
What a beautiful story I can imagine from this excellent photography.
Excellent composition ,framing and timing.
Great details and natural color.Love this pic.
Thanks for sharing.


Hi Peter,
beautiful birds. Amazing colours. Perfect point of view.
Thanks for sharing,

Hello Peter
What beautiful capture.
great timing.
perfect PoV and colour.
perfect sharpness and composition.
best wishes,

Heelo Mr.Peter,
Nice to see this Puffin family.Nice colour and light.It's a natural picture.I like the way they are waiting for food.
Thanks for sharing,
Kind regards,

Hello Peter
照的很清晰 真是漂亮的鳥 非常鮮豔美麗
動作自然活潑 角度漂亮
構圖很美麗 謝謝分享

nice family capture, greetings Ori

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2013-08-18 11:11]

Hi Peter,spectacular capture whit 3 on the rocks and one in flight taken whit great details despite the quick mouvement,great and rich composition and perfect exposure and colors,i like it!Have a nice evening and thanks,Luciano

Hello Peter
A well captured photo of this Puffin family. We don't have these birds in Pakistan. They are interesting to watch and you have provided us a good opportunity. Nice and sharp image of these penguin looking creatures.TFS,

  • Great 
  • KOMSIS Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 820 W: 0 N: 2419] (10674)
  • [2013-08-18 11:33]

Hallo Peter,
Beautiful natural colours and a nice pose
Great sharpness and details. Nice composition and light.
Best wishes,

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2013-08-18 11:44]

Hello Peter.
Adorable photo.Absolutely wonderful! I would love to see a Puffin one day. The colors are marvelous, as are the details.Regards Siggi

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2013-08-18 12:20]

Hello Peter,
Another interesting shot from your Iceland stay. Lovely vivd scene of daily preoccupation of mother Puffin..
Well seen!
Take care

so beautiful scene and great photo moment and shot!
regards Peter

Ciao Peter. Good time for the interesting situation. beautiful colours.


  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2013-08-18 19:53]

Hello Peter,
How could you not fall in love with these adorable birds. Their facial features alone are sure to capture ones heart. Awesome shot showing them in a playful mood and in superb detail. Colors are true and natural and exposure could not be any finer. Great work!!!

  • Great 
  • Ishi Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 298 W: 21 N: 1943] (13387)
  • [2013-08-19 1:15]

Superb capture of the bird in action. All elements of an interesting and technically excellent photograph are there!

Well done!


  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2013-08-19 3:04]

Hello Peter
lovely view of these cute puffins. Excellent details of these birds in their moment of lunch.
The colours is so pleasant.
Nice view.


Hi Peter,

You have captured well the arrival of the Puffin with the food. The point of view is showing the details and colours of the Puffins. The good luminosity is enhancing the colours. Have a nice day.


Dear Peter,
Excellent shot here.. Great timing and excellent composition.. Superb image quality too.. Very well done..
Good night from India and wish you all the best..
Warm regards,

Hello Peter,
Exceptional composition with a superb colorful bird. I never have the chance to see them in the wild....Gorgeous fellows....
Amazing colors, details and very good focus.
Thanks for sharing!

Another amazing scene from Iceland Peter! Great photo too. Very good timing, good composition, fantastic colours and good sharpness.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2013-08-23 22:49]

Hi Peter.
What a pictorial and nice picture. Subject is amazing and full of attractive objects and details. Images of the birds are simply brilliant and BG is splendid too. I like framing this charming scene so much. Perfect job. My compliments and TFS.

Hello again
Great capture of this beautiful moment.Excellent composition,wonderful natural colours and great details.Thanks again.
Best wishes

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