Surface Diving Gull

This article features a number of images of a surface diving gull captured handheld using Bird Detection AI and Pro Capture L with an E-M1X.

I haven’t been out with my camera as much as I would have liked lately, so I headed down to Grimsby harbour to get a little practice in. After photographing a few gulls in flight using Bird Detection AI in combination with Pro Capture L, I decided to focus on them landing and doing other less common behaviours.

In amongst the many gulls that were floating on the surface of the water, I noticed a couple that seemed to be using a surface diving technique… likely for fishing.

I decided to watch this behaviour with the objective of learning when to anticipate which gulls would use this surface diving approach… and hopefully capture some photographs of the action.

All of the photographs in this article are displayed as full frame captures without any cropping as I thought this would put the subject gulls in better context for readers.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

I quickly discovered that different birds used variations of the surface diving technique. Some, like the gull illustrated below, would barely break the surface of the water before diving. In some cases the action happened so quickly I could barely capture it. The four consecutive images below were captured in a total of 0.22 seconds.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 31.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 31.7 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 31.7 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 31.8 metres

Other gulls would rise further up in the air before plunging back down with their attempt at surface diving. The next 11 consecutive photographs show a gull using that higher approach. I was using 18 frames-per-second with Pro Capture L. The following 11 frames were captured in a total of 0.6 seconds.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.2 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.2 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.2 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.2 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.2 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.1 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.3 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.2 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.1 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18 metres

Often the same bird would repeat its surface diving behaviour. The next series of consecutive photographs of a gull using the surface diving technique was my best image run from my afternoon visit to Grimsby harbour.  These 11 images were captured in a total of 0.6 seconds.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.4 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.4 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.2 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.2 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.2 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18.3 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 17.7 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 18. metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 17.8 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 293 mm, efov 586 mm, f/8.5, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, full frame capture, subject distance 17.6 metres

Some photographers would not bother trying to capture images of very common birds like gulls. When I’m out with my camera with the intention of getting in some regular practice, I’m happy to photograph anything that Mother Nature happens to send my way. Even common birds can do interesting things.

Once again my E-M1X with Pro Capture was up to the task.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. All images are displayed as full frame captures without any crops. This is the 1,072nd article published on this website since its original inception.

How you can help keep this site advertising free

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.

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.

Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. 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 or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.

Article and photographs are Copyright 2021 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!

4 thoughts on “Surface Diving Gull”

  1. I think these are very interesting. They show gulls making their everyday living and the importance of abundant surface schooling bait fish which in turn need quality water. It’s when these routine, common behaviors crash that the ecosystem is in real trouble.
    And, I subscribe to similar thinking: If you’ve got a shot, take it.
    I learn something from every shot, including a lot of what I shouldn’t do.

  2. Really nice images! I enjoy taking images of any bird, gulls may be common but they are fascinating in their own right as you have shown. Plus it is great practice!

Leave a Reply

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