Facebook Twitter RSS Feed Flickr Vimeo YouTube
Articles highlighting my photographic style, images, and techniques, photo opportunities at selected locations, with a few tips for photographers on the road.

Bird Photography at Nickerson Beach

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Nickerson Beach, located in Lido Beach, NY (Long Island) is a Nassau County operated beach on the Atlantic Ocean. It is known to bird photographers as an excellent location to observe and photograph large breeding colonies of Black Skimmers and Common Terns as well as other bird species.

Beginning at the end of May and through August, interesting opportunities for bird photography include mating activity, birds sitting on eggs, adult birds with chicks, fledglings being fed, fledglings at different growth stages, plus many more. The nesting areas are staked and roped off to reduce disturbance to the breeding birds.

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) – Juvenile skimming for fish (Nickerson Beach)

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) adult in-flight (Nickerson Beach)

During the breeding season the tern colony includes Least Terns along with the more prevalent Common Terns.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) – Juvenile standing on a sand dune (Nickerson Beach)

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) with fish (Nickerson Beach)

In addition to the Skimmer and Tern colonies, there are other species present for more opportunities for bird photography. Depending on the time of year, there will be shorebirds (including breeding Piping Plovers), gulls, and others.

Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) (Nickerson Beach)

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) (Nickerson Beach)

Sanderling (Calidris alba) (Nickerson Beach)

Below is a map showing Nickerson Beach with a few tips based on my visits.

Nickerson Beach Birding Map

Click on the photos above for more information, click on the species name to see all images of that species, or click here to see more images from Nickerson Beach.

All images © Clarence Holmes

Share

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (Aug 30, 2009)

White-rumped Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Below are a few images from my trip to the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. Birds present included the continuing American Avocets (2), the previously seen Red-necked Phalarope in the northwest corner, and other usual birds.

White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) non-breeding plumage (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) breeding plumage (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) – Juvenile bathing (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri) taking flight from the pond (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Click on the photos above for more information, click on the species name to see all images of that species, or click here to see more images from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

All images © Clarence Holmes

Share

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (Aug 27, 2009)

Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope

Below are a few images from today’s trip to the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The Red-necked Phalarope was in the northwest corner and was apparently there since Wednesday, not moving far. Also present was a Hudsonian Godwit (not seen by me) and at least 1 Baird’s Sandpiper (seen but not close enough for good photos.

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) in-flight (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Click on the photos above for more information, click on the species name to see all images of that species, or click here to see more images from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

All images © Clarence Holmes

Share

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (Aug 24, 2009)

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Below are a few images from my visit to the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Monday afternoon. Seen but not photographed were three Wilson’s Phalaropes swimming and foraging in a group with many Lesser and a few Greater Yellowlegs. There was also a group of 10-12 Black-crowned Night-Herons in the northeast corner of the pond.

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Click on the photos above for more information, click on the species name to see all images of that species, or click here to see more images from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

All images © Clarence Holmes

Share

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (Aug 20, 2009)

American Avocet

American Avocet

Today was an excellent day for me at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. I arrived around 3:30pm, right about the time of the afternoon low tide. I was concerned that there would not be many birds on the East Pond since normally it is the high tide that pushes larger numbers of birds over from the bay to the East Pond. As it turns out, I saw more shorebirds over the next 2 hours or so than during my visits at or near high tide!

The light was good and I was able to work my way in closer than previous visits for good photos (there were no dive bombing Peregrine falcon attacks to flush the birds.) I use a technique popular with many bird photographers of approaching birds while moving slowly on my stomach and knees. The birds are less prone to fly away if you present a low profile. In this way, a photographer can approach to where foraging shorebirds are inside the lens’ closest focusing distance, or certainly close enough for frame filling shots.

At Jamaica Bay, since the area around the East Pond is wet sand (or more likely mud), fishing waders and boots make scooting along the ground easier. (These items can also be used for wading in rivers and streams in pursuit of other subjects.)  Also, with a long lens, a ground pod of some sort is useful for providing an attachment and swivel point for the lens.  My setup consists of a Canon 1Ds Mark III with a 600mm lens and often a 1.4x tele extender for added reach. The lens is attached to a Walt Anderson Panning Ground Pod and I use the trick of placing this in a frisbee so that the whole affair slides along more easily. For higher angle shots, I use a Gitzo GT5541LS tripod.

Other photographers use a Skimmer Ground Pod which allows attachment of a Wimberley head.  There are other options available, but the goal is to get down low so a close approach is possible and to get the ground level perspective on the birds. Another item that I use is a Right Angle Finder (a.k.a. the neck saver!) so that I can elevate my head slightly to frame and focus by looking down vs trying to look straight through viewfinder. I also add a bubble level to the camera hot shoe so that I can check that my setup is level, although often in the heat of battle, I just use the “eyeball” method.

Notable birds at Jamaica Bay today were an American Avocet and a Wilson’s Phalarope near the 2nd spit going south from the northwest corner. Images of these birds are included below along with some other captures from the afternoon.

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) – Juvenile (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) (East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge)

Click on the photos above for more information, click on the species name to see all images of that species, or click here to see more images from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

All images © Clarence Holmes

Share