Showing posts with label Sandy Point State Reservation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sandy Point State Reservation. Show all posts

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.


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.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Roosting semipalmated sandpiper, Sandy Point State Reservation

Resting semipalmated sandpiper on the beach

High tide was right around sunrise on this September morning, and after following a small flock of sanderlings feeding along the beach at first light, I decided to walk to the tip of Sandy Point State Reservation. With so much of the tidal flats submerged below the tide, I figured there was a reasonable chance the shorebirds would be roosting somewhere on the beach. Sure enough, I didn't get too far down the beach before spotting the first group of semipalmated plovers at the edge of a larger flock of mixed shorebirds. I slowly belly-crawled my way into their presence and enjoyed watching the flock rest and preen, including this semipalmated sandpiper.


Friday, August 30, 2019

Two extra legs and a long shadow, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover with chick underneath on Plum Island, Massachusetts

It was nice to watch this parent piping plover watch over its young chick on the beach at Sandy Point State Reservation, though it was also a little bittersweet. Piping plovers generally hatch four chicks with each brood, and this pair of parents had only this one left. I can only imagine how tough it must be to keep such a tiny family of chicks safe in that environment. But it was inspiring to see a bunch of piping plover fledglings roaming the beach when I returned in early August.

Piping plover vocalizes while brooding a chick


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Piping plover chick in morning light, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick standing tall in morning light on Plum Island, Massachusetts

This curious piping plover chick quickly came close to check me out when I arrived on the beach on this July morning. The sun had just risen above the Atlantic, but we were still in the shadow of the small hill at Sandy Point State Reservation, lending both a warmth and coolness to the morning light. After giving me a once over from its tall pose, the chick quickly returned to its business of scouring the beach for tiny prey.


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Piping plover chick, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick at Sandy Point State Reservation, Massachusetts

A young piping plover chick pauses for a moment and gives me a nice profile view while exploring the beach at Sandy Point State Reservation.


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Piping plover finished brooding, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick stepping out from under its parent's feathers

This piping plover chick was all warmed up and ready to slip out from under its parent's feathers. After watching these adorable little chicks earlier in the summer, it was great to see so many fledged piping plovers on the beach this past weekend. Hopefully it was a good year for their breeding numbers on Plum Island.


Friday, August 2, 2019

Semipalmated sandpiper in evening light, Sandy Point State Reservation

Semipalmated sandpiper on the beach in evening light in Massachusetts

Digging deep into the archives for this one. It was taken on a terrific fall evening in 2012 that I spent with a flock of mixed shorebirds resting and preening on the beach. It was heavy overcast for most of my time there, but as the sun got closer to the horizon, it slipped below the cloud layer and cast beautiful warm light over everything -- including this semipalmated sandpiper resting near an old log on the beach.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Constant motion, Piping plover chick on Plum Island

Piping plover chick in motion at Sandy Point State Reservation

When they're not brooding under a parent, tiny piping plover chicks seem to be in constant motion. Just like the adults, they have a sprint and stop motion as they cross the sand and watch for potential prey. I have found it hard for my lens to keep the face of the bird in focus when they move suddenly, but the bright light of the late morning sun helped the autofocus track this little one as it sprinted across the sand in front of me, momentarily paused to check something out, then shot off again.

Piping plover chick running on the beach

Piping plover chick stops to check something out on the beach

Piping plover chick in motion

Piping plover chick starting to run again on the beach at Plum Island, Massachusetts

Shared with Wild Bird Wednesday -- follow the link for this week's posts.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Least tern courtship, Sandy Point State Reservation

Least tern courtship display on the beach in Massachusetts

Here's a series of images from a foggy morning photographing the courtship rituals of least terns on the beach at Sandy Point State Reservation.

Least tern courtship display

He arrived ready to woo her with his fish, but their mating attempt appeared to be unsuccessful this time. They fought a little bit over the fish, but the female came away with it in the end.

Male least tern offering a fish to a female

Least terns attempting to mate

Least tern passes a fish to another in a mating display


Monday, July 29, 2019

Brooding piping plover chicks, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick attempting to brood on Plum Island, Massachusetts

While it’s fun to capture portraits or action shots of piping plover chicks running about on their own, I’m partial to photographs of the interactions with their parents. It was four years ago that I had my first opportunities to photograph these special moments on Plum Island. On only my second trip to see the chicks, I had the encounter that I only dreamed would actually come together – a clean shot in sunrise light with all four chicks crammed under a parent and a mess of 10 legs sticking out the bottom. It’s a simultaneously comical and incredible sight. I’m always hopeful I’ll have a similar encounter again, but it hasn’t yet materialized in the same way. I love any type of brooding shot where you can see the young ones tucked underneath, and in these, three little fluff balls are trying to squeeze in together.

Photo of three piping plover chicks brooding under a parent


Friday, July 26, 2019

Small piping plover chick on a big beach, Plum Island

Piping plover chick on the beach on Plum Island, Massachusetts

There were multiple broods of piping plover chicks exploring the beach at Sandy Point State Reservation on this June morning. By the time I made it around the main beach and over toward in the inlet, the sun was already getting pretty high in the sky. For most other subjects, it would easily have been time to pack up the gear and head home. But when you're photographing something that's just an inch or two above the ground, the light sand almost works like a giant reflector -- helping to reduce the contrasting shadows from underneath and extending the time for photography.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Sense of scale, Piping plover at Sandy Point State Reservation

Photo of a tiny piping plover chick next to a small beach plant in Massachusetts

Sometimes, while watching these birds on the beach through a large telephoto lens, you forget the sense of scale. Especially when their curiosity brings them close and they fill your viewfinder. But then one passes by a tiny plant in the sand, just three leaves on a side, and you remember how small these chicks are -- and how amazing it is that they're responsible for feeding themselves!


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Under the watchful eye of a parent, Sandy Point State Reservation

Photograph of a piping plover chick near its parent in Massachusetts

A young piping plover chick exploring the beach as its parent watches in the background. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but the out of focus parent seems a bit frazzled to me as it's calling out and running down the beach. I suppose that's to be expected when you're trying to keep watch over four small chicks, each heading in a different direction!


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Least tern chick with parent, Sandy Point State Reservation

Least tern chick walking on a Massachusetts beach

It’s been so much fun to observe the least tern and piping plover chicks at Sandy Point State Reservation. Having the chance to see both in such close proximity makes the difference between the life histories of the species so striking. The plover chicks appear curious and brave, moving quickly across the beach looking for food on their own, occasionally returning to brood under a watchful parent. In contrast, the young terns are clearly more dependent as they wait for their next meal to be brought back and they appear rather awkward as they run across the sand. Regardless of how they are raised, both are certainly adorable in their down feathers!


Friday, July 12, 2019

Curious piping plover chick, Sandy Point State Reservation

Curious plover chick on the beach in Massachusetts

Photographing piping plover chicks can be so rewarding since they're so curious. On many occasions during my recent trips to Sandy Point State Reservation, I’d get myself positioned in the sand a good distance away from the plovers, only to have them approach really close. For better or worse, they seem to be inquisitive about what the photographer is doing lying in the sand. It can be challenging to keep them in frame with a long telephoto at close range, so sometimes it’s worth just pulling up from my viewfinder to enjoy their remarkable cuteness with unaided eyes.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Least tern chick at sunrise, Sandy Point State Reservation

Least tern chick snuggled with parent in Massachusetts

A young least tern chick enjoys the comfort of its parent’s embrace at sunrise. Its sibling was tucked under the far wing, but perhaps this one enjoyed feeling the warmth of the first early rays rising above the Atlantic. At one point, it ran out onto the sand, apparently thinking that its other parent was coming back with a fish, but once that moment passed it came back to snuggle in again.