Friday, August 8, 2014

Shorebird Migration

Sandeling
Because of a recent email from my friend Paul Champlin "For those who don't remember or otherwise know about this, unlike most places in Massachusetts, Horseneck Beach (from the mouth of the Westport River to the public beach itself) hosts tens of millions (if not more) mole crabs. They vary in size from pinhead size to thumb size, and live near the surface of the sand exclusively in the wave-break zone. the density and variability in size of these critters allows shorebirds to gorge themselves on them with ease. Though this beach is visited by thousands of people per day (sometimes tens of thousands) the shorebirds often continue to find it beneficial to remain on the beach (though mornings until 9ish and evenings after 6pm) are best on good beach-going days. On poor beach-going days, the birds can be found all day long. This congregation of shorebirds tends to vanish by mid September when Peregrine Falcon migration bumps up a notch." the other day, Doug and I visited Horseneck Beach, to see what shorebirds we could find and for me anything else to photograph.

By the way, if you are there before 9 AM, there is no one at the guard shack to collect the parking fee or after 6 PM.  If you are Massachusetts resident and are 62 older you can apply for The MassParks Senior Citizen Pass.
Anyway, when we arrived, there were hardly any people at the beach, despite it being a beautiful sunny day, but that may be because there was no swimming allowed because of the rip currents from hurricane/tropical storm Bertha.  Waves were crashing onto the shore and there were a couple of people surfing.

Surfing
Besides the usual species of gulls, everywhere up and down the shoreline, there were shorebirds feeding.  Ranging in size from the large whimbril down to the little semipalmated sandpiper.  Most of the time, all I had to do was sit down on the sand and watch the shorebirds running by me.  Because the whimbril, and the Willit were further up the beach, we walked toward him stay in high in no way from them so we would not disturb them.  Then I got down low and slowly move toward them so I could photograph all these beautiful birds.  I captured always images utilizing my Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200 mm lens with a 1.7 converter, ISO 640 and manual mode settings on the camera.

Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover and Sandeling Flying
Willet
Whimbril
Semipalmated Plover
Now Horseneck beach is not the only place with a shorebirds are now starting to congregate.  The shorebirds can be found anywhere along the coast, and this is a wonderful time of year to go out and enjoy the seashore and observe and photograph the shorebirds, as they make their way down toward South America.  You can find shorebirds in all different plumages ranging from breeding plumage, all the way to their basic winter plumage.


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