Some Sandy Hook birds

I wandered out the fisherman’s trail at Sandy Hook late this afternoon, mainly to see the flock of Black Skimmers that nested there – for the first time in 25 years – but also just to enjoy some time alone. The day was perfect; warm and breezy and the throngs of beach-goers were heading in the opposite direction from me. I had the beach to myself, save for the fishermen and a couple other birders.

A couple Ruddy Turnstones wandered by and had a bath as the tide rose around us. Turnstones seem nearly as tame as the Sanderlings, yet they’re much more gregarious.

Funny that I’m slowly learning the temperaments of shorebirds, even if I can’t identify them most of the time!

The terns here at Sandy Hook seem like they’re mostly done with feeding young, but still are spending a lot of time flying around, calling, with fish in their bills. Maybe parenthood is a hard habit to break. Maybe this fish was a bit too big and it was calling as an invitation to share.

A mystery for another summer, I guess.

The Black Skimmer colony is a joy… a finely choreographed chaos of long-winged birds and enough barking to drown out the sounds of the surf. Just amazing!

I couldn’t get anywhere near as close as to those in yesterday’s post (of the flock at the 2nd Ave. jetty in Cape May) but this is an active colony, with young birds not yet able to fly. By mistake I scared a couple fuzzy chicks out from their hiding spots behind bits of driftwood… that was enough to stop me in my tracks.

This pic is sweet, I think, because it shows the way that improbable bill of theirs lengthens and develops color as they age. The oldest bird, on the far left, was able to fly… the others not. I saw a couple that looked younger than even that one on the far right.

I feel very blessed that we have them breeding so close to home and hope they’ll be back at Sandy Hook next summer…

Always there’s one little Sanderling and I; this one almost too close for my camera.

: )

Here’s hoping your Labor Day was filled with similar pleasures.

10 thoughts on “Some Sandy Hook birds”

  1. Just making the rounds of my favorite past bloggers, and thought to say, Hi! Glad to see you alive and involved with the natural life of Cape May. As for me, it’s been a tough slog, but still alive and kicking. 😉

    No shore birds here, but plenty of hummers and Goldfinches readying themselves for a trip back to Central America. I’ll miss them all when it turns cold and foreboding here in “crackerville”. 🙂

  2. Nice story. Awesome images.

    Keep this up and pretty soon there’ll be a Laura Hardy shorebird book, and I’ll be asking you to sign it!


  3. Where have those Black Skimmers been the past many years?

    Nice photos. Must be quite the job after returning home with a card full of shots!! What to leave in, what to leave out …

  4. Laura, stopping by tonight reminds me of how much I miss being here. For your photos, and more for your words.


  5. I visited with the Sandy Hook Skimmers Saturday and enjoyed seeing my first Skimmer juvies. What made it even better was running into a group of young birders, for whom the Skimmers were Lifers. Experiencing their joy at seeing these birds was wonderful. (oh, maybe I should put that on your list!)

  6. John: Thanks! New lens!

    Dr. Know: Hey! Glad to know you’re still alive!

    I look for an update on that neglected blog of yours.

    ; )

    Steve: Right… Shorebirds for the Visually Challenged.

    Bill: Thanks for stopping by!

    Sandy: Thanks! New lens!

    Rabbit’s Guy: That is quite the mystery, I think. Skimmers are particular… in that nesting sites must be elevated (somehow) enough to protect from high tides and such… who knows! Glad to have them at any rate.

    Susan: Don’t worry… those Cape May skimmers hang around for a while!

    Mary: Nice to see you here!

    Donna: Hi! They are a such a treat… I only wish one didn’t have to walk quite so far or fight quite so many mosquitos along the way to see them!


    See you next month at SHBO!

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