On tuesday I was on the Eider barrage for an assignment (which never took place…). The barrage locks Schleswig-Holsteins longest river, the Eider, from the north sea tide to protect the hinterland from being flooded.

I used the chance of being there to visit the colony of arctic terns which is directly beside the road leading to the top of the barrage. These little birds are amazing flyers – their turns in the air are just spectacular, and even more in the strong (read: cold) wind that was blowing there.

Arctic terns are the birds with the longest migration route, by the way. Breeding in the northern regions (here we are more or less on the southern border of their summer breeding grounds), they fly down to the Antarctic to spend winter there. They like it cold, seems… they fly up to 80.000 kilometers per year!

The possibility to watch them is really good at the Eider barrage and even with my 200mm lens I could approach them closely enough to let them fill the frame. They were breeding just 1 meter or less away from the street, without being bothered by my movements (slow and lying on the ground). Just the occasional worker going to the cars parked right there made them fly away for some seconds, but they returned immediately.

Here are my favorites, including one view of the whole area. The arctic terns were sharing the space with more obstrusive and louder black-headed gulls.

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