Category Archives: Shore Birds

Plover at Sunset

The Merlin Bird ID App says this is most likely a Black-bellied Plover, or possibly an American Golden Plover. South Carolina is well within the winter migration range of both species and both sport a “black belly”  during breeding season which happens in the arctic tundra.

Plover in the Surf
Plover at the Surf’s Edge

The sun was almost down, creating a pink reflection in the receding Atlantic surf.

Plover in the Surf
Plover in the Surf

The Plover came a bit closer to me as I waited watched the sun go down.

Plover
Plover

Black Skimmers Buzzing the Beach

The noise of a flock of birds reached my brain as I was concentrating on some Willets in the beach surf. Ah, Skimmers!

Black Skimmers in Flight
Black Skimmers in Flight

I diverted my attention and dropped down to my knees, hoping the flock would show off their skimming skills right in front of me.

Black Skimmers in Flight
Black Skimmers in Flight

Alas, they had other ideas.

Black Skimmers in Flight
Black Skimmers in Flight

And soon disappeared from my sight.

Black Skimmers in Flight
Black Skimmers in Flight

Matching Steps

Not just people like walking on the beach.

Oyster Catcher Walking the Beach
Oyster Catcher Walking the Beach

There’s something about having sand between your toes that is satisfying.

Oyster Catcher Walking the Beach
Oyster Catcher Walking the Beach

Oystercatcher U5 was reported to the American Oystercatcher Working Group.

The American Oystercatcher Working Group seeks to develop, support and implement range-wide research and management efforts that promote the conservation of Atlantic coast American Oystercatchers and their habitats through individual and partnership-based initiatives guided by recommendations of the Working Group’s membership. http://amoywg.org/

Skimmers at the Beach

A flock of mostly Black Skimmers with a few terns, gulls and Oyster Catchers mixed in were occupying a sand bar at the edge of the ocean near where the Kiawah River runs into the Atlantic.

Black Skimmers Taking Off
Black Skimmers Taking Off

As I’ve seen before some signal is received by the birds and they all take off and relocate at once.

Black Skimmers Over Ocean Surf
Black Skimmers Over Ocean Surf

This was just past low tide and their real estate was shrinking quickly with the incoming tide. They settled down on the next available spot, dislocating a few pipers.

Black Skimmers Landing at Beach
Black Skimmers Landing at Beach

The terns were more inclined to stay put, not minding the surf lapping at their legs.

Black Skimmers Over Surf
Black Skimmers Over Surf

Beachwalker Park, Kiawah, SC 9/24/2019

American Oystercatcher Flying Over Surf

This American Oystercatcher had been standing in the surf. He got a running start then smoothly took off with one full beat of his wings.

American Oystercatcher in Flight
American Oystercatcher in Flight

It was just after dawn and he was flying directly into the sun, which I think must not affect birds’ eyes the way it does mine.

American Oystercatcher in Flight
American Oystercatcher in Flight

The incoming tide created a nice series of waves behind the bird.

American Oystercatcher in Flight
American Oystercatcher in Flight

He let out a  squawk for good measure before he disappeared down the beach.

American Oystercatcher in Flight
American Oystercatcher in Flight

Ruddy Turnstone

Their calico-cat like coloring sets these shorebirds apart from the others, but their behavior on the beach is a lot like the pipers and other “peeps.”

Ruddy Turnstones on Beach
Ruddy Turnstones on Beach

Standing around in small groups or on their own, they wait for the ocean to reveal something to eat.

Ruddy Turnstone on Beach
Ruddy Turnstone on Beach

Walking along the edge of the surf, this Ruddy Turnstone was proactively looking for a snack, racing ahead of the flowing water.

Ruddy Turnstone on Beach
Ruddy Turnstone on Beach

Botany Bay Island, August 4, 2019.

Tern and Chick

A large portion of the marsh behind Botany Bay Beach is cordoned off to keep humans from interfering with breeding shore birds. Their nests are nothing more than depressions in the sand and aside from the obvious egg destruction by human feet many of these birds just don’t like to be disturbed by man or his pets while raising their young.

Breeding season was over when I took these images but a few young stragglers were on the beach on August 4th.

Tern at the Shore
Tern at the Shore

This young tern didn’t seem to know what to do. The sun had just come up and he probably should have been looking for breakfast.

Tern Chick at the Shore
Tern Chick at the Shore

An adult was nearby, but I didn’t see them interact.

Tern at the Shore
Tern at the Shore

This may be the same young bird, I spotted a bit further down the beach.

Tern Chick at the Shore
Tern Chick at the Shore

Willet and His Shadow

Willets are shore birds that tend to mind their own business and with their sand coloring it is easy to miss them. As the sun was coming up this one decided to take a stroll away from the water and there was a bit of contrast between him and the hard packed sand. The line shadows behind him were created by a dead tree standing in the ocean surf.

Willet and His Shadow
Willet and His Shadow

Then he took off, first showing me his patterned underwings…

Willet and His Shadow
Willet and His Shadow

…then revealing a nice view of his the upper side of his wing, and a cool shadow.

Willet and His Shadow
Willet and His Shadow

I didn’t capture his shadow in this last image but I did like the driftwood background as the Willet flew away.

Willet and His Shadow
Willet and His Shadow

Botany Bay Island, SC, August 4, 2019

Ruddy Turnstone: Driftwood Framing

My position and timing were big factors in capturing these images of a Ruddy Turnstone exploring a barnacle covered tree.

Ruddy Turnstone on Driftwood
Ruddy Turnstone on Driftwood

The incoming tide was pretty calm, creating just a small splash behind the bird.

Ruddy Turnstone on Driftwood
Ruddy Turnstone on Driftwood

The bird was in almost constant motion, not waiting for the perfect combination of splash, his position, and my readiness.

Ruddy Turnstone on Driftwood
Ruddy Turnstone on Driftwood

Botany Bay Island, SC, August 4, 2019