A Day at the Beach

Those who know me know I love the beach, especially those on Long Island. I will always consider Long Island home even though I no longer live there. I chose to head out to Quogue to visit my parents this weekend, President’s weekend, given my daughter was off from school. I was amazed at how quiet it was. All the better for us!
New snow had fallen and the landscape photography was excellent.

Snow Spotted Sand Dune

Away from visiting with my parents, one reason I went out to Long Island this weekend was for the bird photography opportunities. With no one around I knew I would have ample time to work areas with minimal interruption from cars or beach goers, a luxury not afforded during the summer months.
The biggest “find” I had for the weekend was spotting a lone American Bittern at a very small salt marsh. It was truly amazing that I was able to catch this bird out of the corner of my eye while driving. You can see from the picture that he is camouflaged well with his surroundings.

American Bittern in Salt Marsh

This was my first chance to photograph an American Bittern. Observing its behavior and hunting style was a thrill. Unfortunately I only came away with a few marginal pictures. I was experiencing some focusing problems with my camera combination, a Nikon D700 and 200-400 f/4 with 1.7 TCe. I’m not sure if the error was operator induced or mechanical but most of the issues were back focusing so I am thinking I need to calibrate the camera and lens combination.

Another cool behavior I was able to witness for the first time was courtesy of the Herring Gulls.

Floating Herring Gull

This flock of Herring Gulls would dive for clams and crabs, fly to an area where the bay was covered in ice, and from about 50 ft. in the air, drop their catch on the ice. This would have the effect of breaking the shells and stunning the prey so the gull could make quick work of eating the insides. It was amazing to watch this behavior over and over again.

On my way back from a great morning of photographing birds, I spotted a Great Blue Heron heading out to the bay. I just had to stop and make one more click!

Great Blue Heron in flight

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