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.