Category Archives: Shore Birds

Gang Way: Black Skimmer Coming Through

The tide was almost low and the shallow inlet water was attracting a number of shore birds looking for a meal, including a few Black Skimmers. My view wasn’t great and some tall grass partially obstructed the action, but watching these gorgeous birds skim for food is fascinating.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer headed toward Tricolored Heron

The flying gull and wading Tricolored Heron paid no head to the speeding Skimmer.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer, Gull and Tricolored Heron

The Skimmer made a practiced move of a quick look underneath and behind.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer and Tricolored Heron

The Tricolored Heron was not giving up his spot.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer and Tricolored Heron

Gracefully the Skimmer banked, skirted the heron and headed across the inlet.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer and Tricolored Heron, Second Skimmer coming in

Click any image for a closer view.

Least Sandpiper

A mud flat is created when the SC Department of Natural Resources lets the water out of a section of the old rice fields at Bear Island Wildlife Management Area. The little shore “peeps” of all varieties gather for feeding.

Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper

The Least Sandpiper is one of the smallest of the little “peeps” that wade through the mud, foraging for food.

Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper with Reflection

It’s fascinating to see the flocks take off in one motion and fly as a group to a new location.

Flock of Shore Birds
Flock of Shore Birds

Two Against One

The Cormorant was swimming low in the water with his catch, probably a crab based on the parts you can see sticking out in a couple of the images.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

Alas, a Laughing Gull spotted him and dropped in for a closer look.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

The Cormarant dodged the gull and kept his prize.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

The gull rose up a for another try.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

Attracted by the activity a second gull joined in the harrassment.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gulls
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gulls

The Cormarant dodged the interlopers and swallowed his lunch before the gulls re-grouped.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

Click on any photo for a larger view of the action.

American Avocets

We arrived at Bear Island Wildlife Management area just before the sun came up this morning. A few American Avocets were sitting in the shallow water and reflected the sun’s first glow.

American Avocet
American Avocet

As we progressed around the impoundments throughout the morning there were several other areas with feeding Avocets. There were a few groups but they mostly fed on their own.

American Avocet
American Avocet

This pair in flight shows off the Avocet’s gorgeous colors and their upturned beak.

American Avocets in Flight
American Avocet Pair in Flight

Click on any photo for larger view.

Sanderlings

I spotted this group of Sanderlings driving along Indian River Lagoon in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The immediately took off, but returned with a flourish in just a few minutes.

Sanderlings in Flight
Sanderlings in Flight

I’ve usually seen them running along the surf, but this one loan Sanderling took a dip in water up to his belly.

Sanderling in the Surf
Sanderling in the Surf

Click on either photo for larger view. 

Shore Birds Standing in the Surf

I got another opportunity to photograph Black Skimmers last week when a small group along with some Terns visited the same sand bar where I saw them two weeks ago. This Royal Tern had a few things to say.

Black Skimmers and Terns
Black Skimmers and Terns

When I first spotted them there were some Pelicans in the mix but they didn’t hang around. The tide was nearly out and this group of smaller birds seemed content to let the water lap around their legs. I didn’t see any of them feeding.

Black Skimmers and Terns
Black Skimmers and Terns

After the tide turned they shifted as a group a few times, going into the air, doing a few loops and settling just a couple dozen feet from where they started. It was only when a couple of bicyclists and a family with a baby carriage came along that they left.

Black Skimmers in Flight
Black Skimmers in Flight

Click on any photo for a larger view.

Willet On the Shore

Although I have seen a Willet in flight it is more common to see them walking the shore, poking the surf and sand for food.

Willet
Willet patrolling the shore

I didn’t see where he captured this fish but he took it to a wide open expanse of beach to consume it, alone. It’s size slowed him down. Just swallowing it wasn’t an option.

Willet
Willet with a good sized catch

The pools left by the falling tide attract the Willets. Calmer than the ocean surf they often are a concentrated food source as the water drains away.

Willet
Willet in a beach pool

They will completely immerse their heads looking for food, tipping like a bobbing garden ornament.

Willet Dunking his Head
Willet Dunking his Head

More of the Peeps

We’ve been to the beach a lot lately to see the Dolphins and Black Skimmers. The sandpipers go about their business in and around whatever else is going on, usually at the edge of the water.

Shorebird Peep
Shorebird – click on photo for larger view

Sometimes they are happy to forage around the bumps and undulations of dried sand left as the tide goes out. Whatever they are looking for must be tiny as you hardly ever see what they find to eat.

Shorebird Peep
Shorebird – click on photo for larger view

 

Willet in Flight

Willits are one of the shorebirds that poke around at the edge of the shore or at the edges of small ponds and inlets along the ocean. They look pretty drab until they take flight.

Willet in Flight
Willet in Flight

The distinguished white and black stripes that show on their wings set them apart from the Dowitchers and Yellowlegs.

Willet in Flight
Willet in Flight

This one came to shore where I was waiting for Dolphins and headed for a pool left on the beach by the falling tide.

Willet in Flight
Willet in Flight

Click on any photo for larger view.