View 182: Birds of the Jersey Shore

My main reason for visiting Atlantic City last week was to meet up with a couple of photographers at the Forsythe National Wildlife RefugeHowie and Brian are experts at Forsythe as they photograph almost daily there and were great guides pointing out favorite locations of bird species.  This allowed me to get a lot of photos of birds I probably would have missed had I been on my own.

Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) tend to their nest in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge with the Atlantic City, New Jersey skyline in the background.

Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) tend to their nest in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge with the Atlantic City, New Jersey skyline in the background. Nikon D7000/80-400VR, 1/1250s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

Forsythe sits about 10 miles (16 km), as an osprey flies, north of Atlantic City, New Jersey.  It was fascinating to see Ospreys nesting with the casinos in the background.  People looked at me strangely each morning in the resort elevator when they asked me where I was going with my camera.  They all had no idea such diverse wildlife lived so close by to the gaming salons.

Oystercatchers pry open mussels, clams and oysters with their long, strong orange beaks and suck out the meat.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus finschi) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus finschi) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey. Nikon D7000/80-400VR, 1/1600s, f/5.6, ISO 1600, EV 0, 400mm focal length.

Black-crowned Night Herons are stout herons about as tall as a Great Blue Heron’s legs.

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey.

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey. Nikon D7000/80-400VR, 1/800s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

Willets forage on mudflats or in shallow water, probing or picking up food by sight.  They mainly eat insects, crustaceans and marine worms.

Eastern Willet (Tringa semipalmata) shorebird in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey.

Eastern Willet (Tringa semipalmata) shorebird in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey. Nikon D7000/80-400VR, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO 1400, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

Clapping Rails make loud “clapping” sounds and rarely fly preferring to walk in and out of thick foliage in the salt marshes. This guy just finished his bath for the day.

Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey.

Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey. Nikon D7000/80-400VR, 1/800s, f/5.6, ISO 1600, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

Caspian terns are fast birds which I had a lot of fun trying to photograph in flight. In fact, I had to go with the faster focusing Nikon 28-300mm AFS VR FX lens to capture them.

Caspian tern (Sterna caspia) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey.

Caspian tern (Sterna caspia) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey. Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/2500s, f/5.6, ISO 360, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

Great Egrets were posing for their portraits along the Wildlife Drive as they hunted for food near water drains.

Great Egret (Ardea alba) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey.

Great Egret (Ardea alba) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey. Nikon D7000/80-400VR, 1/1600s, f/5.6, ISO 280, EV 0, 400mm focal length.

The most exciting bird for me to see and photograph was the Black Skimmers who have a longer lower mandible designed to “skim” through the water to grab small fish, eels, insects, crustaceans and mollusks.

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey.

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge near Absecon, New Jersey. Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/1600s, f/5.6, ISO 560, EV +0.3, 400mm focal length.

I had a lot of fun with Howie and Brian.  Howie was my guide driving me around the wildlife refuge and making sure I saw his favorite bird subjects.  You may have noticed I was using a Nikon D7000 dSLR DX camera for some of these photos.  I have Brian to thank for that as he had an extra one I could use. This let me take advantage of the cropped body giving my Nikon 80-400VR lens a reach of 600mm and a better sensor than my old Nikon D70.

About these ads
This entry was posted in Animals, Nature, Weekly View and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to View 182: Birds of the Jersey Shore

  1. Outstanding pictures, Scott ! I really admire these images because I imagine it is not easy to capture such birds. They are all so beautiful. I particularly like the first picture for its amazing contrast and the Clapper Rail; I feel I can almost touch his feathers!

  2. milkayphoto says:

    Good stuff, Scott! The two shots that stand out to me are the Tern (wonderful shadow) and the Egret (love the use of negative space). A fine shooting day, indeed!

    • Thanks, Tracy! I have others of the tern which were neat but I liked the shadow on the wing the best. It was a perfect day for shooting those birds. The weather the day before wasn’t as nice and the colors of the images show it. Though the photos look much better in my Mac browsers this time for some reason.

  3. Perfect timing in that last one! :-)
    I really like the egret, and the first one, too, just wish you could have gotten a little closer to the nest (crane, bucket truck, really tall ladder? ;-) )

    • The person I mentioned in the article, Brian, was shooting with a Nikon D7000 and a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR lens. With the crop factor, that’s 900mm! That would have helped with the Osprey nest photo for sure.

      They kind of frown upon the bringing in of heavy equipment by photographers. ;)

  4. Karma says:

    Love these, Scott. My favorite is the first, eating the oyster. I think the composition of that shot is just beautiful. I’ve seen osprey from afar – never that close.

    • There was an osprey nest closer but not very active. I’ve heard the chicks have been seen in the nests this week.

      The oystercatchers are so compelling with those eyes and beaks. I actually have a series of photos leading up to this one of him finding, digging and pulling out the bivalve feast.

  5. montucky says:

    These are all terrific photos, Scott! I really like the Clapper Rail: I’ve never seen one before.

  6. Anna says:

    All are such great shots! I never heard of or seen the Clapping Rails. I just love the Great Egret photo.

  7. Robin says:

    Wow! And another Wow! These are stunning, Scott.

  8. Carsten says:

    Altantic City was different to me. I’m not a gambler – but had to try. My outcome wasn’t as good as yours Scott. Every single image is good in its own way.
    I like the Clapper Rail image for its contrast and the way the plants frame the bird.
    The Black Skimmer image: Wow!

  9. Kathy says:

    Nice bird photos, Scott, as always. I especially like the black skimmer with that orange reflection in the water…stunning! The oyster catcher is my second favorite. Looks like he’s enjoying a yummy snack!

  10. Nye says:

    Scott, love the first image. It’s showing me that they are adapting to their new environment taken over by people, I’m glad that there are still places reserve for them. The last image is awesome.

    • Thanks, Nye. The telephone lens makes it appear like Atlantic City is closer than it is. 10 miles is enough of a distance to not bother the wildlife much. The refuge closes access at night or I would have loved to have taken a night photo, too.

  11. Pingback: A June Photo Hunt | Views Infinitum

  12. truels says:

    Awesome photos of these birds. Birds are one of the many subjects I dream about photographing when I get some better photographic equipment. The last four photos are superb – the last one is my absolute favorite, unbelievable how you got that in the box!

  13. Pingback: Best of 2011 | Views Infinitum

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s