Beyond the Backyard

Sandy Point State Reservation, Massachusetts

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Piping Plover

On our way back from Maine, Rich and I stopped at Sandy Point State Park. It’s on the southern end of an island about an hour north of Boston.  My objective was Piping Plovers, who nest in the area.  We have Piping Plovers in Florida during migration, but I haven’t had such good luck finding them.  Well, I found them in Massachusetts!  There were half a dozen of them running around the sandy beach at the very tip of the island. I’m used to Florida beaches, where nesting birds are protected by roped-off areas, often stewarded by local Audubon groups. On this beach in Massachusetts, nesting cages are placed over the Piping Plover nests. The cages were all empty, so I assume that means that the babies had all fledged. I think I spotted a couple of juveniles in fresh plumage, which is lighter than that of the adults. It was a rainy, icky morning. Thunderstorms had moved through the previous night, and everything was all wet. I walked up and down the beach, amazed at how the Massachusetts shoreline was so different than my beaches back home in Florida! Sandy Point State Reservation is an important nesting location not […]

Beyond the Backyard

Gather Ye Tern Chicks While Ye May…

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Last Saturday I had the privilege of photographing the Least Tern Colony near Fort Matanzas in St. Augustine.  The Least Terns are the smallest terns in their family, and each year they come to St. Augustine in the spring to lay their eggs and raise their families.  Their nests are nothing more than tiny indentations in the sand, and the local Audubon groups monitor the colony nesting site and provide bird stewardship. I was joined by fellow photographers and friends Michael, Raees, Kathy, and Jim.  We found a nest that was very close to the edge of the protected area, and we all settled in the sand to photograph the tiny chicks peeking out from Mama’s wing.  It was tricky to settle low enough to be at a bird’s-eye view, but high enough that you could clearly see the chicks.  I would guesstimate that these chicks were a day or two old.  They spent a lot of time sleeping under Mama. The morning was very cloudy, and it wasn’t until the sun started to peek out that the babies became more active.  We were happy when one crawled out from under Mama, yawned, and plopped in the sand in front […]