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Ground effect... or why birds skim across the water surface. The ground speed effect is when the the wing of bird (or plane or anything) is so close to the ground that the wingtip vortices are perturbed resulting in less drag and more lift. In short it is significantly more efficient. As such, it is not surprising that some birds fly close to the water when going up-wind significantly more than down-wind (Finn et al. 2012, Journal of Field Ornithology).  It is also interesting to note the same &quot;study indicates that several species exploit both wind shear and ground effect to minimize energy expenditure during commuting and foraging, but that others do not, because of either complexity of habitat morphology or the demands of their foraging ecology.&quot;<br />
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So next time you want to take a pic of a bird skimming the water...  find out the wind direction, place yourself accordingly and hope your subject obeys this rule! :) 2015,5D mkIII,April2015competition,Geotagged,India,Karnataka,Pelecanus philippensis,Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary,Sanctuary,Spot-billed pelican,Spring,adhocphotographer,asia,john rowell Click/tap to enlarge Promoted

Ground effect... or why birds skim across the water surface.

The ground speed effect is when the the wing of bird (or plane or anything) is so close to the ground that the wingtip vortices are perturbed resulting in less drag and more lift. In short it is significantly more efficient. As such, it is not surprising that some birds fly close to the water when going up-wind significantly more than down-wind (Finn et al. 2012, Journal of Field Ornithology). It is also interesting to note the same "study indicates that several species exploit both wind shear and ground effect to minimize energy expenditure during commuting and foraging, but that others do not, because of either complexity of habitat morphology or the demands of their foraging ecology."

So next time you want to take a pic of a bird skimming the water... find out the wind direction, place yourself accordingly and hope your subject obeys this rule! :)

    comments (3)

  1. Lovely shot, so sharp! I envy you for the nice weather you've had. During the 2 days we spent at the lake we had about half an hour of sunshine and half a day of rain :( Posted 7 years ago
    1. Thanks, but I'm not sure if nice is that accurate... Summer is starting to set in (March-June) and as the temperature rises, it limits ones activities too.. Then again, better than rain, so I'm very sorry for you! Posted 7 years ago
  2. I used this knowledge to get in position for this shot:
    Pelican fishing After MANY attempts and waiting, i managed to get a shot of the pelican with it's beak in the water.  April2015competition,Geotagged,India,Pelecanus philippensis,Spot-billed pelican,Spring,adhocphotographer,john rowell,karnataka
    Posted 7 years ago

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The spot-billed pelican or grey pelican, is a member of the pelican family. It breeds in southern Asia from southern Pakistan across India east to Indonesia. It is a bird of large inland and coastal waters, especially large lakes. At a distance they are difficult to differentiate from other pelicans in the region although it is smaller but at close range the spots on the upper mandible, the lack of bright colours and the greyer plumage are distinctive.

Similar species: Pelicans, Herons, Ibises
Species identified by JohnR
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By JohnR

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Uploaded Mar 30, 2015. Captured Mar 29, 2015 11:44 in Road to Car parking, Karnataka 571427, India.
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • f/5.6
  • 1/3200s
  • ISO400
  • 700mm