Gregory Gard: Blog http://www.greggard.com/blog en-us (C) Gregory Gard info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) Tue, 27 Sep 2016 00:33:00 GMT Tue, 27 Sep 2016 00:33:00 GMT Short-billed Dowitcher preening - Jamaica Bay, NYC http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/short-billed-dowitcher-jamaica-bay-nyc Slow-motion video of a Short-billed Dowitcher preening / cleaning its feathers at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Gateway National Recreation Area, Queens, New York:

 

To view more of my shorebird photography, please visit my gallery: greggard.com/shorebirds

Come back often and please subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXrElrNM2GUfk_lODljUOJw

Here are some of my favorite books offering great shorebird education (to save money buy used books):

If you are about to create a website for your photography, and need a discount coupon code for your new Zenfolio account, please use my referral code: YRF-6XN-3BX at the checkout to save up to 30%.]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird NWR NY Photography shorebirds slomo video http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/short-billed-dowitcher-jamaica-bay-nyc Tue, 27 Sep 2016 00:25:52 GMT
Black-bellied Plover - Jamaica Bay, NWR http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/black-bellied-plover-jamaica-bay Molting Black-bellied Plover stretching its wings and exposing the unmistakable field mark, black armpit:

Molting Black-bellied Plover raising its wings and showing the black spot under its wing / armpit / underwing Black-bellied Plover Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Gateway National Recreation Area, Queens, New York, USA - for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

 

This black spot helps to differentiate Black-bellied Plovers and American-golden Plovers when in-flight.

I took this photograph at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Gateway National Recreation Area, Queens, New York.

To view more of my shorebird photography, please visit my gallery: greggard.com/shorebirds

Here are some of mine favorite shorebird books for a quick read (to save money buy used books):

If you are about to create a website for your photography, and need a discount coupon code for your new Zenfolio account, please use my referral code: YRF-6XN-3BX at the checkout to save up to 30%.]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird NWR NY Photography shorebirds http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/black-bellied-plover-jamaica-bay Mon, 19 Sep 2016 23:21:51 GMT
Adult Least Tern taking a bath - Nickerson Beach, New York http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/least-tern-nickerson-ny Adult Least Tern taking a quick bath in a shallow water at the Nickerson Beach, Long Island, New York:

Adult Least Tern taking a bath in a shallow water at the Nickerson Beach, Nassau County, New York shorebird photography Canon 1DX mark II + 600mm f/4 IS mark II + 1.4x teleconverterLeast Tern bathingLeast Tern - Sternula antillarum - Nickerson Beach, Lido Beach, Nassau County, New York

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

 

"Our smallest tern. Often seen flying low over the water, with quick deep wingbeats and shrill cries. Usually hovers before plunging into water for tiny prey; does more hovering than most terns. Populations are endangered in many areas because of human impacts on nesting areas, especially competition for use of beaches. However, Least Terns in some parts of the east are now nesting successfully on gravel roofs near the coast." - www.audubon.org

If you are interested in visiting Nickerson Beach, but not sure where to go, you can read my free Ultimate Guide to Nickerson Beach, here: http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/7/nickerson-beach-ny-guide

To view more of my shorebird photography, please visit my gallery: greggard.com/shorebirds

As the peak of shorebird migration is upon us, with juvenile birds coming down, here are some recommendations for quick read (to save money buy used books):

If you are about to create a website for your photography, and need a discount coupon code for your new Zenfolio account, please use my referral code: YRF-6XN-3BX at the checkout to save up to 30%.]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird NY Photography bath nickerson http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/least-tern-nickerson-ny Tue, 13 Sep 2016 01:47:06 GMT
Peregrine Falcon in-flight - New Jersey http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/peregrine-falcon-in-flight-nj Adult Peregrine Falcon flying by:

Dorsal view of an adult Peregrine Falcon flying by with its wings widespread at the State Line Lookout, NJPeregrine FalconAdult Peregrine Falcon flying by State Line Lookout, New Jersey

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

 

I photographed this magnificent bird of prey at the State Line Lookout, Bergen County, New Jersey.

 

Please help to continue the preservation of New Jersey's threatened and endangered wildlife by supporting work of Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ: www.conservewildlifenj.org/getinvolved/donate/ as well as The Peregrine Fund: https://peregrinefund.org/donate

You can also support their efforts by shopping on Amazon at no additional cost to you via http://smile.amazon.com <- make sure to pick Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey Inc as you charity.

If you make your Amazon purchase via this link: http://amzn.to/19kQxUT I will personally donate 3x the amount that Amazon would!

If interested, please visit my falcon gallery, at: www.greggard.com/falcons

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info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird NJ Photography bird of prey http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/peregrine-falcon-in-flight-nj Mon, 05 Sep 2016 19:28:24 GMT
Black Skimmer skimming - Nickerson Beach, New York http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/black-skimmer-nickerson-ny The strange, uneven bill of the Black Skimmer has a purpose: the bird flies low, with the long lower mandible plowing the water, snapping the bill shut when it contacts a fish:

Adult Black Skimmer flying low and skimming the water with its long bill - Nickerson Beach, Lido Beach, Nassau County, New YorkBlack Skimmer skimmingBlack Skimmer skimming Nickerson Beach, Lido Beach, New York

 - for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

Strictly coastal in most areas of North America, Black Skimmers are often seen resting on sandbars and beaches. Same is true at the Nickerson Beach, New York where I photographed this magnificent bird. 

Interesting facts:

- Unlike most birds, their eyes have vertical pupils, narrowed to slits to cut the glare of water and white sand

- Although the Black Skimmer is active throughout the day, it is largely crepuscular (active in the dawn and dusk) and even nocturnal. Its use of touch to catch fish lets it be successful in low light or darkness.

- Flocks in flight may turn in unison, with synchronized beats of their long wings. 

via Audubon and CornellLab

 

If you are in visiting Nickerson Beach and photographing Black Skimmers, but not sure where and when to go, you can read my free Ultimate Guide to Nickerson Beach, here: http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/7/nickerson-beach-ny-guide

To view more of my shorebird photography, please visit my gallery: greggard.com/shorebirds

As the peak of shorebird migration is upon us, with juvenile birds coming down, here are some recommendations for quick read (to save money I recommend to get used books):

If you are about to create a website for your photography, and need a discount coupon code for your new Zenfolio account, please use my referral code: YRF-6XN-3BX at the checkout to save 10%.]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 100-400mm 1DXII Bird NY Photography shorebirds http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/9/black-skimmer-nickerson-ny Thu, 01 Sep 2016 19:17:07 GMT
Running Sanderling - Nickerson Beach, New York http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/sanderling-running-nickerson-beach Often you see Sanderlings running back and forth on the beach, picking or probing for tiny prey in the wet sand left by receding waves. Legs are just a blur and you may ask yourself: "Are they catching anything?" Here is a short video played at normal and slowed down speed. You should be able to see this Sanderling picking up a small worm right before the wave comes...

 

As you can imagine, it wasn't that easy to follow this fast runner :)

Sanderling feeding at the shoreline at Nickerson Beach, Lido Beach, Nassau County, New YorkSanderlingSanderling feeding on a wet sand at the Nickerson Beach, Lido Beach, Nassau County, New York

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

Video and photograph taken at the Nickerson Beach, New York

 

Come back often and please subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXrElrNM2GUfk_lODljUOJw

If you are interested in visiting Nickerson Beach, but not sure where to go, you can read my free Ultimate Guide to Nickerson Beach, here: http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/7/nickerson-beach-ny-guide

To view more of my shorebird photography, please visit my gallery: greggard.com/shorebirds

As the peak of shorebird migration is upon us, with juvenile birds coming down, here are some recommendations for quick read (to save money buy used books):

If you are about to create a website for your photography, and need a discount coupon code for your new Zenfolio account, please use my referral code: YRF-6XN-3BX at the checkout to save 10%.]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird NY Photography shorebirds slomo video http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/sanderling-running-nickerson-beach Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:53:45 GMT
Mating ritual of American Avocets - California http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/mating-ritual-of-american-avocets-ca Mating ritual of American Avocets, where female assumes the “solicitation posture” by extending her neck far forward and laying her bill on or near the surface of the water. At the same time, male spends some time (2-3 minutes) walking repeatedly to both sides of the female and rigorously preening. At the moment of this photograph, he is about to mount her:

Mating ritual of American Avocets (Recurvirostra americana) with male inserting its bill under the female neck - California bird photography Canon 1DX II 600mm f/4 IS + 1.4x extenderAmerican Avocets (Recurvirostra americana) during mating ritualSan Francisco, California

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

 

Photographed at San Francisco Bay Area, California

Please support my bird photography by making your regular purchase on Amazon using my affiliate link: http://amzn.to/1kROlvn or simply starting your Amazon search by clicking the banner below:

Thank you!

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info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird CA Photography mating shorebirds wading http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/mating-ritual-of-american-avocets-ca Sat, 27 Aug 2016 13:33:34 GMT
Juvenile Piping Plover bathing - Nickerson Beach, NY http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/juvenile-piping-plover-bath-ny Juvenile Piping Plover taking a bath in a shallow water at the Nickerson Beach, New York

Juvenile Piping Plover bathing in a shallow water at Nickerson Beach, New York bird photography Canon 1DX II + 600mm IS f/4 II + 1.4x extenderJuvenile Piping PloverJuvenile Piping Plover taking a bath Nickerson Beach, New York

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

and here is a slow motion video of the same bird:

 

 

Pretty cool, isn't it? As I'm having fun with my new camera, Canon 1DX mark II, I will be (at least will try :) ) posting new slow motion video each Monday for #SloMoMonday 

Come back often and please subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXrElrNM2GUfk_lODljUOJw

If you are interested in visiting Nickerson Beach, but not sure where to go, you can read my free Ultimate Guide to Nickerson Beach, here: http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/7/nickerson-beach-ny-guide

To view more of my shorebird photography, please visit my gallery: greggard.com/shorebirds

As the peak of shorebird migration is upon us, with juvenile birds coming down, here are some recommendations for quick read (to save money buy used books):

If you are thinking of creating a website for your photography, and need a discount coupon code for your new Zenfolio account, please use my referral code: YRF-6XN-3BX at the checkout to save 10%.]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird NY Photography bath endangered nickerson shorebirds slomo video http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/juvenile-piping-plover-bath-ny Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:15:00 GMT
Juvenile Short-eared Owl - Montana http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/juvenile-short-eared-owl Look what Google Maps found for me! It took me through the kind of backroads that usually I wouldn't take on my way back to the airport, and this cute juvenile Short-eared Owl was standing right at the edge of the road:

Young Short-eared Owl standing on the gravel road at the country side of Montana wildlife photography Canon EOS 1DX II camera paired with a Canon 600mm f/4 IS II lens and 1.4x extenderJuvenile Short-eared OwlJuvenile Short-eared Owl perched low on the gravel road between the farm fields in Montana

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

 

Here in New Jersey, Short-eared Owls are seen only in Winter animist of them are adult birds. Therefore, I was very excited with this to see this young owl. 

Big thanks to my wife for not freaking out about the condition of the road we were driving on, especially after the storm that passed 10 minutes later. Only the roof showed the original color :) It was also my first time, I had to wash a rental car before returning it :)

 

If interested, you can see my other owl photographs, here: www.greggard.com/owls

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info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird Montana Photography bird of prey owl http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/juvenile-short-eared-owl Thu, 18 Aug 2016 23:29:24 GMT
Black-necked Stilt chick - California http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/black-necked-stilt-chick-ca Black-necked Stilt chick searching for food: Black-necked Stilt chickYoung Black-necked StiltBlack-necked Stilt chick walking in a shalllow water in a search of food Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

 

I took this photograph at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California this past Spring.

I visited this place a little bit to early in the season with most of American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts still mating. Luckily, one pair got into it sooner than others and had chicks right on time for my visit :) It was a lucky find for sure and a first one for me.

 

Please support my bird photography by making your regular purchase on Amazon using my affiliate link: http://amzn.to/1kROlvn or simply starting your Amazon search by clicking the banner below:

Thank you!

]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird CA Photography shorebirds wading http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/black-necked-stilt-chick-ca Sun, 14 Aug 2016 22:18:03 GMT
Prairie Warbler - New Jersey http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/prairie-warbler-flowering-tree Adult male Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor) perched in a flowering tree

Adult male Prairie Warbler posing with a beautiful white flowers in a background - New Jersey songbird photography Canon 5DsR 600mm II 1.4x extenderPrairie WarblerAdult male Prairie Warbler perched on a blooming tree full of white flowers - Garret Mountain, New Jersey

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

Interesting facts (courtesy of CornellLab)

- The male Prairie Warbler sings two song types, which closely resemble each other but differ subtly in volume and speed. The faster "Group A" song is directed at the female, for courtship and maintenance of the pair bond. The "Group B" song is sung at territory boundaries to deter other males.

- Female Prairie Warblers commonly eat the eggshells after their young hatch, consuming the shells in 15 to 90 seconds.

- The Prairie Warblers living in the Florida mangroves are considered to be a separate subspecies from the more widespread migratory ones. The Florida birds are slightly larger and have larger white spots in their tails.

 - The oldest recorded Prairie Warbler was a male, andat least 7 years, 9 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Connecticut.

 

more of my bird photography can bee seen, here: www.greggard.com/birds

 

I would appreciate if you start you next shopping search at Amazon using the search banner below:

 

 

 

No personal information is shared with me and you pay the same price. I will receive just a small percentage of your total purchase. Thank you!]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 5DsR 600mm Bird NJ Photography songbird http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/prairie-warbler-flowering-tree Thu, 11 Aug 2016 01:18:51 GMT
American Avocet landing - San Francisco Bay Area, CA http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/american-avocet-landing-san-francisco-ca Adult female American Avocet coming in for a landing at San Francisco Bay Area, CA

American Avocet coming in for a landing - San Francisco, Bay Area, California bird photography Canon 1DX mark II + 600mm II + 1.4x
American Avocet coming in for a landingSan Francisco Bay Area, California - for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

Please support my bird photography by making your regular purchase on Amazon using my affiliate link: http://amzn.to/1kROlvn or simply starting your Amazon search by clicking the banner below:

 

]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird CA Photography shorebird wading http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/american-avocet-landing-san-francisco-ca Sat, 06 Aug 2016 18:23:15 GMT
Grizzly Bear crossing a road - Montana http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/grizzly-bear-crossing-a-road-glacier-montana Grizzly Bear crossing a road in Many Glacier area of the Glacier National Park, Montana: 

Grizzly Bear crossing a road on a turn / curve showing how important it is to obey posted speed limitGrizzly Bear crossing a roadGrizzly Bear crossing a street Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana - for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

 

It is rather obvious how important it is to obey the posted speed limit! Especially in National Parks. You never now what is hidden behind a turn...

 

Some books I found helpful in planning my visit to Glacier National Park:

 

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info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Glacier Montana NPS Photography wildlife http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/8/grizzly-bear-crossing-a-road-glacier-montana Tue, 02 Aug 2016 23:52:56 GMT
Nickerson Beach - Location Guide http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/7/nickerson-beach-ny-guide Full disclosure: This post contains references to products from Amazon.com. I may receive compensation when you click on links to those products

Version 0.2 - latest update 8/14/2016 (scroll down to the bottom)- work still in progress - aka better late than never :)

Intro:

Many of us heard about some famous birding/photography location but never could make a trip there. Either we couldn’t find enough information about it or we couldn’t spend hundreds/thousands of dollars on a photography workshop. Often, these places are in a different state and many of us cannot afford to travel to unknown location just to "waste" valuable time and money on research of the location and coming back empty handed. One of these locations happens to be 50 miles from me and I made it a tradition to visit it several times during summer months.  

After receiving numerous requests over last couple of years, from all over the world (yes, I had people contacting me from across the ocean as well :) ), on when, where and how to shoot at the Nickerson Beach, I decided to finally share my thoughts on this location. For past 6 months, I debated if I should write it. I know that some photographers would be against it. Truth to be told, Nickerson Beach is a very well known place to photograph nesting shorebirds and it is not a secret place that one may think it is. It is a beach that sees heavy foot traffic every day during summer and birds are well protected. Also, nesting areas are frequented by volunteers that keep an eye on any misbehavior. Knowing that there are many people around at all times, I believe that there will be no harm nor foul play because of this blog post. Actually, I hope that it will bring some education and more respect for birds.  

The main goal of this blog post is to create the Best Guide to photograph breeding colonies at Nickerson Beach! It will be run in an “open source” style, meaning, everyone can contribute to it! I’ll be glad to hear what you saw on your last visit there. I will be updating it after each visit, so come back often to see what we all saw.

Contrary to all other guides/ebooks that you can buy online, I won’t be charging any fee for this information. The common price for a 10-15 page ebook where 70% of the content are just photographs, is at least $50! Most of them are written several years ago and are not being updated! Believe me, I was burnt multiple times by purchasing an ebook from well known photographers only to find out that the information in their guide was from 5-8 years ago and no longer valid! And since this was an ebook/electronic file, there were no returns!

My guide is completely free and is/will be updated frequently. The more people contribute, the more up to date it will be. Do not worry, I will be updating it at least 8 times in a season my self :) Here you will find the latest news, on what is seen and what is happening at the Nickerson Beach. I can make this happen only with your help. Please come back often and leave your observations in the comments section. If you find this information useful, and would like to help me create more content like this, you can shop on Amazon.com via a special link and I will receive a small percentage of your purchase. You will not pay more than regular price. I would love to see you to make it a habit of always shopping on Amazon via my affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2alLCx2​ It doesn’t matter what you buy and how much you spend. It all counts! Additionally, 20% of the proceeding from this link, I will be donating to Conserve Wildlife Foundation at the end of each year.

 

 

Black Skimmers family at the Nickerson Beach, Long Island, New York bird photography - ultimate guide Black Skimmer familyAdult Black Skimmer - Rynchops niger - feeding a fish to a chick - Nickerson Beach, Long Island, New York Black Skimmer family at the Nickerson Beach, New York

 

 

Here we go. Let the fun begin!

 

Location:

Nickerson Beach is located in Lido Beach, Long Island, New York. (Google Maps: http://bit.ly/29GJyic ) It is one of the most popular beaches on the East Coast to photograph large breeding colonies of Black Skimmers and Common Terns. Additionally, you can find breeding American Oystercatchers, Piping Plovers and Least Terns. In early Spring, and late Summer going to an early Fall, you can find other shorebirds along the beach: Red Knots, Semipalmated Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, Willets just to name a few. 

For breeding colonies, you have excellent opportunity to photograph these birds engaging in courtship, breeding, feeding young, flight etc.

 

When to photograph specific species:

Even though each season may start sooner or later when compared to the previous one year, here are some average times on when to photograph particular species:

In early May, you can find most American Oystercatchers and Piping Plovers mating. In early June, chicks of these birds are starting to hatch and young birds are exploring the beach. This is the best time to find adult birds feeding their chicks. June is the month when the biggest colony on the beach, Common Terns, start their courtship. Most of young terns start to hatch in early July. July is also the month when Black Skimmers are mating and their chicks are starting to show up in an early August.

Keep in mind that these times are for the majority of the species population, meaning, some birds of the same species will have young before or after the majority of the colony. For example, in mid June you would expect to find 3 weeks old oystercatcher chicks, but there is a possibility of finding an oystercatcher nest still with eggs. In mid July of 2016, I was surprised to find 3 families of Black Skimmers already with chicks! Definitely the earliest hatching of skimmers for me. But majority of Black Skimmers are still mating... 

 

 

Adult Adult American Oystercatcher feeding crab to a chick - Nickerson Beach, NY bird photography guideAdult American Oystercatcher feeding a chickAmerican Oystercatcher adult feeding a chick (Haematopus bachmani) - Nickerson Beach, Long Island, New York, USA ​Adult American Oystercatcher feeding a juvenile

 

The Beef:

Even though there is a $30 admission fee to the beach, you don’t have to pay it if you arrive before 8AM or after 5PM. On some days, they collect fees until 6PM. 

To get the most pleasing photograph of birds is to photograph them at their eye level, with the Sun still low on the sky and behind you. To achieve this it is best to arrive early. Make a plan to be on the parking lot right before the sunrise. This will give you time to use a restroom, prepare your gear and get to the beach. The path to the main colony (area A on the map) is located right next to the restroom. The walk from the parking lot shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to get to the area were the birds are. Most of the walking is on the sand. It may be strenuous for some, so please plan accordingly. Arriving early will allow you to get familiar with a place and to find the best spot along the roped off area. Nesting areas are roped off to protect the birds. Please be sure to respect these boundaries and do not go beyond these demarcations. This is a very special place that we are privileged to be able to visit and photograph, and some of these birds are threatened/endangered. If authorities see disturbance at the nest site, they move the ropes further away from the birds “punishing” us for bad behavior. If you stay low to the ground, and be quiet, most likely birds will get accustomed to you quickly and will get closer. This is the key to get that perfect photograph! Let the bird to know that you are no harm and it will get comfortable. How comfortable? On many occasions I had a couple days old Common Tern chick walked up to me, and snuggled to my leg :) It is also possible that you will find some birds outside of the ropes. Please give it a space. Do not approach to close and do not run! It is always best to approach any wildlife slowly, very low to the ground. If you see any photographers already laying down and photographing birds, please do not walk up to them. Approach slowly, make an eye contact and wait for their permission to approach. You never know how much time they spent to get to this position and yo can ruin their work in a second. 

 

 

Nickerson Beach mapWhere to photograph nesting bird colonies

 

 

Looking at the included map:

- Area A hosts the biggest colony of Common Terns and Black Skimmers. This is where the most action is happening and this is where the most photographers are photographing

- Area B here you will find less tern and skimmer families but birds may be a little bit closer. On my very first visit to Nickerson Beach this is where most of the birds were. In the last couple of years, most of the birds are in the Area A. I’m not sure how it was in the past. On the West side of Area B you may find Piping Plovers and Least Terns. 

- Between the Area A and Area B often you will find at least one American Oystercatcher nest. Right on the center of the beach :) Nest of course is roped off.

- Walking along the shore from Area A to Area B and further, you will find American Oystercatchers, Piping Plover and peeps feeding. Also, there will be skimmers and terns diving for fish. If the foot traffic is low, some of the older chicks will also come to the water edge. Especially on hot days. Young birds often leave the roped off areas to cool of in the wet sand. 

- Each season is a little bit different. Winter storms carve the beach leaving different size of pools for the summer. In 2015 there was a large tidal pool along the east side of the Area B. This year, 2016, early June there was a pool along the south side of the same area. These shallow pools allow birds to take a bath and can be very productive for photography. As of August, 2016 these pools are still in the place with more water after the heavy rain and high tide.

- Walking along the shore, pass the Area B, you will find many other shorebirds such as: plovers, ruddy turnstones, red knots etc. 

- At the parking lot, check on the small pond located next to the dog field. Often, I found there some skimmers, terns and gulls bathing. Also, in 2014, there were 3 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks!

- Also, if you are there the day of/after heavy rain, look for puddles on the beach or parking lot. Birds love to bath in them!

 

Colors:

In pink color I marked Restroom and Dog field

Green lines show the trails to the beach and the approximate location of the roped off area.

Red line shows the best location for sunrise shots (your back to the Sun) to photograph the colony

Yellow less favorable location during sunrise and sunset to photograph the colony

Orange shows the best location for sunset shots to photograph the colony

 

 

What to bring and what to wear:

You should wear shoes and clothes suitable for walking on a sandy beach. Best photographs are taken at the bird’s eye level. This means that you will spending most of the time on your knees/belly. Convertible pants and long sleeve shirts work best. Don’t forget your hat, sunglasses and water! Any lens above 300mm is good at this location. In some situations, shorter lens is also suitable for flight shots and landscapes, especially during sunrise and sunset. If you shoot 

 

By not buying this guide ($50), by not paying admission fee ($30), by avoiding tolls (at least $8 one way) I saved you at least $88. If you come more than once, you will save a lot on just not paying admission fee. I hope you will appreciate these savings :) In return, I would like you to share this post with everyone that may be interested. Share it on any social media outlet you use: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anywhere you like. Also, I would like you to make it a habit of purchasing any items on Amazon via my affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2alLCx2​. Just save it in your bookmarks/favorites and shop away :) Remember, that the cost for you is the same. I will just receive a small percentage of a total you pay. No personal data is shared with me either. Not only you will help me to create more helpful content but also you will help me to make a bigger donation to Conserve Wildlife Foundation at the end of this year!

Just start your search here:

 

 

 

 

Update 7/16/2016

 

Passed the Area B, I found 4 molting adult Red Knots feeding along the shore with ~100 or so peeps (Semipalmated Sandpipers) and at least 20 juvenile Piping Plover with adults. Also, to my surprise, I found at least 3 Black Skimmer families with chicks already hatched! The earliest for me! They were very close to the ropes along the south edge of Area B. Ropes along Area A seem to be pulled further away from the nesting birds…

 

Update 7/24/2016

 

It turns out that this year's nesting seems to be about 2 weeks earlier than in previous years. There must be some kind of formula to this, I just can't figured it out yet. DO you have any thoughts? Most of Common Terns chicks are already grown up and flying. Area A is "flooded" with Black Skimmer chicks. Most of them already 1 week old! Somehow, I missed them last week. My wife photographed mating Black Skimmers this morning, so there will be some late chicks this season for sure ;) She also saw at least 5 Black Skimmer families with eggs... Sweet, there will become nice variety of chicks in the next couple of weeks...

 

Update 7/30/2016

 

To my surprise, there is a "new", temporary, colony of Black Skimmers. It is located between Area A and Area B. Closer to East side of Area A. This colony, of about 50 adults, has chicks ranging from a 1 week to 3 weeks old. It is possible that these birds just happened to spend only a night there but it was cool see them up close. This is why it is important to get there first thing in the morning. Birds are outside the roped off area. I spent more time at the tide pools, South side of Area B. This week's new arrivals are at least 8 Ruddy Turnstones and large group of Semipalmated Plovers. I was able to find some juveniles Piping Plovers mixed in as well.  Shorebirds are migrating!

 

Update 8/8/2016

 

This season is a little bit different than my last 4 seasons there. Black Skimmer colony ventures outside of the grassy, roped of, area and spends most of the time right about 20 feet behind life guard stands. To my understanding, it is caused by a increased predation in the grass area, mainly raccoons. Black Skimmers venture out in to the open space to easily spot an approaching raccoon. You may see a temporary "fencing/rope" set up to protect this colony. This is not setup to keep photographers away! It is setup to protect chicks when adults fly away and beach goers could walk over them. Also, in the mornings, there are vehicles driving along the beach.

Since I find this season superb for photographing bathing shorebirds, once again I spent most of my time at the tidal pools. I have a great day photographing Black Skimmers doing what they do best, skimming :) I will try to post some photographs soon... From what I saw, it was very easy for others to photograph skimmer colony at close range. Additionally, birds were very tame. What is also different this season, especially compared to 2015, I already saw some juvenile Black Skimmers flying! Last year, most of the chicks were just 1 week old at the beginning of August :O

Here is a sign put up with an information at the entrance to the beach (right were the blue "boardwalk" ends:

Predation at Nickerson Beach

Please do your best to do not disturb these birds as they are stressed out enough this season. And if you see somebody "harassing them" please, intervene. Some beach goers think that these are just gulls... Yep, I was surprised hearing this as well...

 

Update 8/13/2016

Forecast called for a cloudy morning but it ended up to be sunny!

Hot and humid morning at the Nickerson, perfect for shooting birds against/straight to the sun aka silhouettes. All that haze in the air created beautiful yellow/orange background.

Most of the Black Skimmers could be found near water. Early morning my wife saw juvenile skimmers taking a bath in the ocean but quickly they dispersed when the sun came out. Lots of flying juveniles. With current high temperatures there are no more tide pools at the beach. It was rather a slow morning with an awesome, at least for me, sighting of 20+ Red Knots :) There were only 3 other photographers. I guess everybody stayed home away from the heat :) 

This morning we saw a lot of raccoon foot prints along the dunes and near water...

 

Update 8/14/2016

Another hot morning at the Nickerson. Luckily there was a steady breeze coming from the ocean. Once again we saw raccoon tracks on the sand but not as many as yesterday. Poor Black Skimmers :( My goal for today was to find yesterday's Red Knots so I went straight to Lido Beach, West of Area B. REKN's showed up late, around 7:30AM. I assume that they rest somewhere further away but come to Lido Beach when scared by first people coming to the beach. Overall good day today. New arrivals were hundreds of Semipalmated Plovers. First, I saw a group of them resting in the Area B and then most of them either were feeding along the shore or roosting on the beach. Lots of Semipalmated Sandpipers and Sanderlings as well. I believe that number of Ruddy Turnstones was also larger, compared to yesterday. I saw at least 30. Not to many photographers again. Either, they gave up because there are no more chicks to photograph or just simply it was to hot.

Here is a short video showing shorebirds feeding along the shore:

Shorebirds at the shoreShorebirds feeding along the shore at Nickerson Beach, New York

Just keep in mind that this is just a portion all birds that I saw that day. There were much more birds further away and some behind me :)

 

Update 8/20/2016

More photographers came to the beach this morning. Unfortunately season is at its end. Most of the Common Tern and Black Skimmer juveniles are spread out and more time is required to find them. The best are early mornings, right at the ocean's edge.

As for migrating shorebirds, it looks like there were more departures than arrivals. Same variety as previous week but with much lower numbers of each species. There were large flocks of birds resting on the sand rather than feeding at the shore.

Most likely this was my last visit to the beach this season. I'm having some personal that I need to take care in next 2 months. It is going to be hard not to photograph birds but finally I will have some time to process some photographs :) I will try to stop by now an then and I will resume the updates in May of 2017. Let me know that you found this post...

 

 

Did you find this guide helpful? What should I change?

What did you see interesting at the Nickerson Beach today?

Please leave a comment :)

 

Also, don't forget to shop on Amazon via my affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2alLCx2​.

Thank you!

 

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info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) Bird NY Photography guide nest nickerson shorebirds tips http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/7/nickerson-beach-ny-guide Mon, 18 Jul 2016 01:15:30 GMT
Red-tailed Hawk's nest - week 5 http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/7/red-tailed-hawks-nest-week-5 Here is a final video from the Red-tailed Hawk nest I was able to document:

 

At the time of this recording, young Red-tailed Hawks were about 5-6 weeks old. First half shows grown-up chicks barely fitting in the nest. Second half shows young hawk finally leaving the nest and resting on a nearby tree. At this point you will see two photographs showing an underwing and back feathers. Last clip shows fledgling Red-tailed Hawk eating a chipmunk brought in by an adult bird.

 

Young Red-tailed Hawk on the first day out of the nest - NJ bird of prey photography Canon 1DX + 600mm + 2xRed-tailed Hawk fledglingNew Jersey

Video and photographs were taken with a Canon 1Dx camera paired with a Canon 600mm f/4 IS lens with a 2x extender at 1200mm 

If you are interested in seeing the progress of this nest, you can find my previous videos on YouTube:

- week 1 - youtu.be/AgnNa-FGtcI

- week 2 - youtu.be/dy8npJHJPqg

- week 3 - youtu.be/lSRS13aHjCo

- week 4 - youtu.be/vJuSCbXfcoA

- week 5 - youtu.be/fNHNW2DUYJo

 

Some books that might help you with hawkwatching:

If you are interested in creating your own photography website, look no further. Zenfolio is a great place to host your website. You can try it out for free for 14 days and if you like it, make sure to use it my referral / discount code: YRF-6XN-3BX during checkout to receive a discount on your annual subscription.

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info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1Dx 600mm Bird NJ Photography bird of prey nest video http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/7/red-tailed-hawks-nest-week-5 Sun, 10 Jul 2016 01:20:11 GMT
Barred Owlet http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/6/barred-owlet Soaked Barred Owl (Strix varia) fledgling drying off its feathers after a rainstorm:

Wet Barred Owlet perched low on a branch right after taking its first flight out of the nest - New Jersey bird of prey photography Canon 1DX II + 600mm IS f/4 IIBarred Owl chickSoaked young Barred Owl (Strix varia) Northeastern USA

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

  

Most likely, first thing you noticed, were this owlet's eyes. What you see is not caused by a camera flash. This is simply natural light reflecting in a special surface, right behind the retina. It is called tapetum lucidum and helps animals see better in the dark. Here you can find a little bit more information about it: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96414364

 

If you are interested in seeing more of my owl photography, please visit my gallery: greggard.com/owls 

 

Here are some books that I found useful to help me find owls:

 

If you are interested in creating your own photography website, look no further. Zenfolio is a great place to host your website. You can try it out for free for 14 days and if you like it, make sure to use it my referral / discount code: YRF-6XN-3BX during checkout to receive a discount on your annual subscription.]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird Photography bird of prey owl young http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/6/barred-owlet Sun, 05 Jun 2016 21:02:15 GMT
Black-necked Stilt calling - Bay Area, CA http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/5/black-necked-stilt-calling-bay-area-ca Vocalizing adult female Black-necked Stilt at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge:

Vocalizing adult female Black-necked Stillt while wading in a shallow water of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California - Canon 1DX mark II + 600mm f/4 IS mark II + 1.4x extender Female Black-necked Stilt callingVocalizing adult female Black-necked Stillt (Himantopus mexicanus) San Francisco, Bay Area, California

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

This past Memorial Day weekend, I visited Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR for the first time. I had some much fun photographing wading birds there, that I can't wait to go back. Only, if it was just a little bit closer to New Jersey :)

Check back soon, I will be posting more photographs from this wonderful place in near future.
 

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info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1DXII 600mm Bird CA Photography wading http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/5/black-necked-stilt-calling-bay-area-ca Wed, 01 Jun 2016 01:45:59 GMT
Bald Eagle's Nest http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/5/bald-eagle-nest Adult Bald Eagle sitting in the nest with a young eaglet:

Adult Bald Eagle sitting in the nest with a young eaglet - New York bird of prey photography - Canon 5DsR + 600mm f/4 IS + 2x teleconverterBald Eagle nestBald Eagle nest - Haliaeetus leucocephalus

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

If you are interested in seeing more of my Bald Eagle photography, please visit my gallery: http://www.greggard.com/bald-eagle

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info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 5DsR 600mm Bird Photography bird of prey http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/5/bald-eagle-nest Tue, 17 May 2016 01:42:36 GMT
Wood Duck drake - New Jersey http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/4/wood-duck-drake-nj Adult male Wood Duck peacefully resting on a grass showing its beautiful iridescent feathers on his head:

Drake Wood Duck resting on grass and looking straight into a camera - NJ waterfowl photography Canon 5DsR + 600mm f/4 IS II + 1.4x extenderWood Duck drakeAdult male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) resting on a grass - Bergen County, New Jersey

- for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

If you are interested in seeing more of my waterfowl photography, please visit my gallery: www.greggard.com/ducks​

And here are some books that help me with my bird photography:

 

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info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 5DsR 600mm Bird NJ Photography waterfowl http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/4/wood-duck-drake-nj Sun, 24 Apr 2016 01:11:37 GMT
Red-tailed Hawk's nest - week 4 http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/4/red-tailed-hawk-nest-nj At the time of this recording, young Red-tailed Hawks were about 4-5 weeks old. First half of the video shows an adult bringing just caught young bird to the nest, most likely European Starling chick. Second half shows young hawks feeding on the leftovers left in the nest.

 

And here you can see one of the two young hawks in the nest, stretching its wings fully exposing its underwing feathers:

Young Red-tailed Hawk stretching its wings fully showing just grown feathers - New Jersey bird of prey nestYoung Red-tailed Hawk stretching its wings at the nestJuvenile Red-tailed Hawk standing in the nest - New Jersey

 for more detailed view and EXIF data, please click on the image -

 

Video and photographs were taken with a Canon 1Dx camera paired with a Canon 600mm f/4 IS lens with a 2x extender at 1200mm 

If you are interested in seeing the progress of this nest, you can find my previous videos on YouTube:

- week 1 - youtu.be/AgnNa-FGtcI

- week 2 - youtu.be/dy8npJHJPqg

- week 3 - youtu.be/lSRS13aHjCo

 

Some books that might help you with hawkwatching:

If you are interested in creating your own photography website, look no further. Zenfolio is a great place to host your website. You can try it out for free for 14 days and if you like it, make sure to use it my referral / discount code: YRF-6XN-3BX during checkout to receive a discount on your annual subscription.

]]>
info@greggard.com (Gregory Gard) 1Dx 600mm Bird NJ Photography bird of prey nest video http://www.greggard.com/blog/2016/4/red-tailed-hawk-nest-nj Wed, 20 Apr 2016 01:34:55 GMT