Category Archives: Shore Birds

Pond Scenes

The water was still and the air was hot. A few gulls and terns occupied old posts standing in the pond while an Anhinga dried off on a stump.

Shore Birds on Posts, Anhinga in Background
Shore Birds on Posts, Anhinga in Background

Even though it was early morning when you expect to see the birds feeding there wasn’t much going on.

Shore Birds on Posts
Shore Birds on Posts

Trees and grasses on the other side of the pond made interesting reflections in the water.

Shore Birds on Posts
Shore Birds on Posts

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, 8/12/2019

Ruddy Turnstone Explorer

An easier to identify shore bird than some due to their pretty rusty colors and calico like pattern, the Ruddy Turnstone breed in the tundra of northern North America but non-breeding Turnstones can be found along most of the eastern and western US coastlines.

Ruddy Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone

I came upon a small flock after Sunday’s  Sunrise, and this one was acting like an intrepid adventurer as the tide came in.

Ruddy Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone

Covered in barnacles, there are a number of dead trees that have been knocked over by storms laying in the water here.

Ruddy Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone

American Oystercatchers in the Surf

The American Oystercatchers I featured in yesterday’s post, American Oystercatchers Flying In, landed fairly close to me but back lit by the just risen sun. I continued down the beach past them, then turned back to see what they were up to.

American Oystercatchers in ocean surf
American Oystercatchers in ocean surf

They were strutting around in the low surf. True to their name, they mostly eat oysters or will probe for other food.

American Oystercatchers in ocean surf
American Oystercatchers in ocean surf

There was no oyster bed here and these two didn’t seem interested in hunting. They soon took off.

American Oystercatcher Taking Off
American Oystercatcher Taking Off

American Oystercatchers Flying In

American Oystercatchers tend to announce themselves in flight with a high pitched call which is good for the photographer wanting to capture flying action.
American Oystercatchers in Flight
Pair of American Oystercatchers in Flight over ocean

Just after the sun came up on Sunday I heard these two coming and fortunately for me they were flying towards the sun.

American Oystercatchers in Flight
American Oystercatchers in Flight

They flew out over the ocean, past part of the dead tree “boneyard” before touching down in the surf.

American Oystercatchers in Flight
American Oystercatchers in Flight

Click on any image for a larger view.

Black Skimmers in Flight

Black Skimmers sometimes do a U-turn over the water and skim back the way the came. Other times they lift up and go back where they started or pick a new place to feed.

Black Skimmer in Flight
Black Skimmer in Flight

It seems reasonable that wind direction and food availability figure in their decisions.

Black Skimmer in Flight
Black Skimmer in Flight, Grass Caught in His Jaw

Whatever the cause they are as beautiful in full flight as they are when they are skimming.

Black Skimmer Pair in Flight
Black Skimmer Synchronized Pair in Flight

Black Skimmer Pair

One of the challenges in wildlife photography is choosing where to stand. Should I stay put or go to the next opening for a better view? Will the bird stay on the same path or veer to the left? Are there any Alligators nearby?

I saw this pair of Black Skimmers coming towards me along the edge of the pond.  My view was obstructed of their approach by the reeds.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

I got lucky and they stayed together and moved into the center of the open water. I stayed put and got an aerial show.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

I love to watch these birds fly and wonder when they are in pairs how they stay synchronized.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

Their fishing is done by touch and when the Skimmer feels a fish in the water their heads snap down as they lift the prey.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair and Gallinule

Black Skimmer Threading a Canal

I had seen a Black Skimmer head down this canal and was ready when he made a u-turn and flew back towards me.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

Impressive with their flight skills, this one made a sharp turn.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

I was standing at a trunk on the canal which obscured my view for a few seconds as he passed by.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

I was able to pick him up on the other side.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

I’m not sure if they lift up off the water to check their course, but in just two seconds he was back to water level.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

He dropped his beak into the water then my sight was obscured by reeds.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

Brown Pelicans in Flight

Watching Brown Pelicans fly can be mesmorizing. They often glide in small groups along the shore line, gracefully and with what looks like little effort.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

And with some secret signal they turn in unison.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

These were taken at the end of the day and there wasn’t much light. This last Pelican was by himself and went right over my head, and yes I wear a hat.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

Bonaparte’s Gull vs Forster’s Tern

The Bonaparte’s Gull and Forster’s Tern look a lot alike and I always have to check a reference when I see either. I happened to capture one of each in similar poses during my recent beach visit.

Bonaparte’s Gull Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Feeding

The gull is slightly larger, but when you see them zooming along above the ocean waves that is hard to tell.

Forster's Tern Fishing
Forster’s Tern Fishing

Bonaparte’s Gull In Surf

Watching Bonaparte’s Gulls feed in the ocean surf it was amazing to see how well they timed the waves, lifting out of the water to avoid a crash.

Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf
Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf

Or just bobbing along and riding the crest of a wave.

Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf
Bonaparte’s Gull Behind Breaking Wave

Sometimes they jump right into the breaking wave, perhaps the fish they want to eat are churned up there. These images capture the gull plus some of the mesmerizing water movement.

Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf
Bonaparte’s Gull in Surf