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Shore Birds Photography at Nickerson Beach Park, Long Island, New York

Nickerson Beach Park is a famous bird photography place. It is part of Lido beach, located in the south shore of Long Island, New York state. There are two restricted areas on the beach, as designated nesting area of migratory shore birds including Common Terns, Black Skimmers, American Oystercatchers, Piping Plovers, Least Terns, and some species of gull. There is a wading pool in the west enclosure, it would be perfect place for photograph shore bird with their shadows if there is no wind blowing. The birds start to come in later spring and early summer. They form nests, breed, and raise baby birds here till September, they start to leave when young birds are old enough to fly.



We arrived early in the morning before sunrise. It took us about 10 minutes to walk on the beach to the east end of the enclosed area. Even before we saw the breeding ground, we could hear bird chirping from far with the splashing sound of the waves from the seashore, like a grand concert on the beach, I felt the palpitation of my heart, it was so exciting. The light is still too dark for taking photos. We set up our gears and waited patiently. We saw hundreds of common terns flying back and forth over the breeding ground. There were quite numbers of black skimmers, at least over one hundred, occupying the sandy area just beyond the grass.


With the morning light getting brighter, we saw the sunrise over the beach. A few more photographers joined us along the rope line. A common tern flew quickly with alarming noises toward the person who just got here, he was a little bit too close to the bird.





This is a quite busy place. Adult common tern flew back to the the nesting area with small fish or other type food. There were tons of opportunity of shooting bird in flight. The baby tern usually heard the parent's call, came out of the grass area, waiting to be fed. There is feeding frenzy going here. The parent once located the baby, started the descending, quickly, put the food into baby tern's mouth sometime even before landing. Then the adult tern would stretch head into the sky, with mouth wide open, make noises to fend off any potential intruders.



More photographers came. All lined along the rope line, pointing their cameras to the busy birds. You can see from this photo below, some of them are quite serious bird photographers with 600mm prime lenses and extra teleconverters on. Most were sitting on the sand to take photos, some even laid on ground to try to get perfect low angle shots!




Here are some shots of bird in flight.






And, of cause, the baby birds. They are alway the favorite subjects to photograph.



Mama, we are here!

Now it is my turn!



The favorite son



Sibling rivalry

Just at this moment, an intruder dropped down from the air, almost landed on the top of the bay tern who got the small fish, grabbing the fish from the baby's mouth.


Airborn intruder

The parent jumped in desperately and joined the fight, trying to take the fish back from the intruder.


Robbery caught on camera

Parent coming to the rescue







A team fighting against the intruder



During the fight, the intruder knocked down the baby tern on the ground. The sibling was helpless.


Fighting in the air, with the babies down on the ground


Fighting shadow casting on the babies


Helpless sibling


The injured baby struggled to get up but could not do that immediately. Literally it took the baby about five minutes to get up and limped to the parent. A round of applause from all the photographers was given. Hopefully this little guy would survive the ordeal.


Some of the baby terns started to stretch their fledgling wings to practice flying action after a fulfilling breakfast.


I want to fly!


See, I can do it too!

After photographing common terns, we turned our cameras to the black skimmers on the other side of the breeding ground. There was a big flock of black skimmers in the sandy area at the edge of the enclosure. Some were sitting on their nests, presumably hatching. Some were still in loving fair of courtship. It is a quite amazing behavior of their courtship rituals. Usually the male skimmer brought in fish, walking around the female bird and trying to present it to the female skimmer, it took about a minute or even longer for the female to accept the gift finally. Then the female bird would hold the trophy in her mouth, letting the male bird mount on her back for mating action. Once the mating activity was done, the female skimmer swallowed the fish and walked along with her male counterpart to find a nesting place.




Honey, I am coming home!

Hey, where are you? The breakfast is ready!


I want to say that I truly love you!


I think you are the Mr. Right.



As always, we did not realize the time passing so fast, until we felt the heat from the rising sun. The light was getting harsh. We decided to leave this lovely place, with a hope to come back in a month for the skimmer's babies.




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