Friday, December 30, 2016

Black Skimmers in NY and NJ - 2016

Black Skimmers in NY and NJ 2016.

I enjoy watching and shooting the Black Skimmers.  They are usually a mix of adults and immature birds - when I see them both in New York and New Jersey.

They will let me get pretty close, but often will also seemingly fly off for no reason.  But usually it is a jogger, a person with a dog, or a predator flying by (like a peregrine, which I have seen buzz them at Cape May).

Some times when they take off they will fly around and fly off and land a half mile or more down the beach.  Other times they will land right near where they took off from.  For this reason I usually give it a few minutes and stay where I was shooting from without moving or getting up.  This has occasionally worked, and they have landed right back in front of me.

I find that cool.  And even cooler is when the birds approach me.  Sometimes this has been due to other people approaching them from another side/area, and it has also been when they have the water/surf on one side of them and me on the other.  When they run away from the surf and towards me, to a safer location, I find that to be a sign that I am there and not bothering them and they are comfortable with me shooting them.

It is also interesting to see them as they move this way and that way, and how often there will be an immature bird that must be tired and it is either sleeping and not moving or it is just slower to respond and follow the movements of the flock.

The really do behave like one bird, all in sync, when it comes to responding to perceived danger.  If they think there's something bad about to happen they will all fly off together in a moment.  Only once or twice have I seen them leave a bird behind, and that bird has always been injured or weak.  To survive they've got to be able to go with the flock when danger approaches...

 D500 w/ 600mm f/11 1/1600th
Nickerson Beach, NY
Black Skimmer on Approach

D810 600mm f/5.6 1/500th
Cape May, NJ
Sunrise Skimmer

 D500 w/ 600mm f/5.6 1/800th
 Cape May, NJ
Juv. Black Skimmer

Happy New Year.