Saturday, October 19, 2019

Semipalmated sandpiper with prey, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

A semipalmated sandpiper pulls prey from the sand in Massachusetts

It was fun to watch this small flock of semipalmated sandpipers rapidly work over the wet sand left behind by the receding tide along the Lot 6 beach in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. The pace they were moving up the beach suggested that there wasn't much left to feed on, but this sandpiper found what appears to be a small worm, which was quickly swallowed.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Seeking shelter on the tidal flats, Piping plovers at Sandy Point

A piping plover looks to brood under his father's wing in Massachusetts

I had a lot of fun watching this family of piping plovers on my first trip to Sandy Point State Reservation for the summer breeding season. I initially encountered them along the dunes, but eventually some of the chicks decided to explore the expansive tidal flats of a very low tide. The patterns in the sand left behind by the receding water made for a unique setting to photograph them as they sought refuge under their father's wing.

Piping plover shelters two chicks under his wing on the tidal flats


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Least tern chick receives a fish, Sandy Point State Reservation

Least tern chick sees parent returning with a fish

On my mid-summer trips to see the breeding birds at Sandy Point State Reservation, I was almost always focused on the piping plovers running around the beach. There is a colony of least terns there as well, and when a family chose to stay near the ropes, a large crowd of photographers tended to form near them each time I visited. I spent the first light of one trip focused on terns, and it was easy to see why there is a such a draw to them. Unlike the piping plovers, which are in constant motion and responsible for feeding themselves, the terns are much more stationary and you have a chance to witness the tender moments of a parent bringing prey back to the little ones.

Least tern chick being fed a fish by its parent

For a while, the chick was snuggled with its other parent on the sand. At some point it must have heard the call of this parent returning, because it leapt to its feet and started running around excitedly. Then its parent flew into the frame and handed off a rather large fish. Unfortunately, I was zoomed in a bit too tight and clipped the tips of the wings, but it was a great moment to witness!

Least tern chick takes a fish from its parent


Shared with this week's Wild Bird Wednesday


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Piping plover chick in the spotlight, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick illuminated by sunrise light at Sandy Point State Reservation

Warm sunrise light with just enough high clouds in the sky came together to illuminate this young piping plover chick while it was exploring the beach at Sandy Point State Reservation.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Piping plover family in the rain, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover parent with three chicks on a rainy day

The dreary last few days in the Boston area reminds me of my first trip this summer to see the piping plover chicks at Sandy Point State Reservation. There were dull-gray skies with off and on drizzle, but it was great to spend some time watching this piping plover family. In this frame, two chicks are already under their parent, and it's pretty clear the third wants to get out of the rain as well.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Sanderling at the edge of the flock, Parker River NWR

A pair of sanderlings feeding at the front edge of their flock in Parker River NWR

Getting an isolated image of a single sandpiper at the edge of the flock is always a rewarding experience and makes for a nice clean shot. But it's also a fun challenge to try to aim into the center of the frenetic sandpiper activity and come away with a pleasing composition. I certainly had to dump a fair number of images due to birds cruising in and out of the frame, but occasionally the pieces come together and it's possible to get a strong foreground subject with interesting depth provided by the flock.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Northern harrier on the prowl, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Female northern harrier in flight over a salt marsh in Massachusetts

This lovely northern harrier caught my eye as it danced above the salt marsh near the entrance to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. After a successful morning with sandpipers, I wasn't necessarily looking for serious photographic opportunities, but its near-range acrobatics were worth pulling the car over for. I didn't have my binoculars along, so I used my telephoto to watch her flight. I fired off a few shots when she turned to face my direction, and this one came out surprisingly sharp. She steadily worked her way past my location, and when she was quite a way behind me, I saw her take a dive into the marsh. She didn't pop back up immediately, so I hope she came away with a meal.


Saturday, October 5, 2019

Preening sandpipers, Sandy Point State Reservation

Photograph of two semipalmated sandpipers, with one sleeping and one preening

One of the pleasures of watching wildlife is when they are totally indifferent to your presence. After slowly approaching a large flock of sandpipers resting on the beach, the shorebirds simply went about their morning business. This pair of semipalmated sandpipers was near the front of the group, with one napping while the other preened its feathers.


Friday, October 4, 2019

Sanderling and reflection, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

A sanderling is reflected in wet sand while feeding in Massachusetts

I took a long walk on the beach before finally reaching a mid-sized flock of sanderlings feeding in front of the rising tide. The group was fast-moving and active, so it was a bit of a challenge to get clean shots. I spent some time pointing my lens right into the heart of the action, but I also attempted to isolate a few birds when they stepped to the edges of the main group.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Sanderlings feeding ahead of the waves, Parker River NWR

Two sanderlings feeding ahead of a small wave in Massachusetts

A classic sandpiper pose -- break probing the sand with a shallow wave chasing them from behind. I love the rhythm of these birds and the waves as they feed, melodically cruising back and forth. It was particularly helpful on this morning along the Lot 6 beach in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge as well. With the autumn sun rising due east, I had to turn sideways to the gently breaking waves to have any shot at reasonable light on the birds. This meant that I occasionally got splashed, but when the birds really started running, it was a helpful sign that I needed to elevate my camera off the sand a few moments later. Fun times!