I was surrounded by rare Piping Plovers in Arverne, Far Rockaway today... They're tiny, amazing and endangered (almost extinct)
Girlie-girlie day with my gal pal Emelia is always interesting. She's one of my favorite photographers and we love taking walks along the NYC beaches together to capture the sunset, especially if there's a storm brewing. The last time we ran out to meet a storm we caught the rare sight of a double rainbow.
Looks like God decided to smile upon me again today because I had no idea what I was photographing by the shore, I just remembered being startled by a migrating flock of the tiniest birds I have ever seen. They were whizzing past me to go chill on the shoreline and bathe in the water while Emmy was on the boardwalk with Ginger waiting for me to finish my photo-shoot. Emmy had spoken to me several times about the nature preserve but I didn't realize I was in for a rare treat because "in order to protect this threatened species, native to the New York area, sections of Rockaway Beach are closed to pedestrians during the spring and summer when the birds are nesting." The section of beach I was on is open to the public so when they swooped in with a feathered entourage I was caught completely off guard.
I tried zooming in on individual birds from my original position but the Piping Plovers were just too small and were mingling with the other little birds... The baby seagull wasn't a problem though but compared to it they seemed even smaller than my original perception. I didn't want to startle them, so I simply waited for the waves crashing against the jetty to bring them closer to me. They were out doing a little dance with the water, staying along the shoreline ebbing and flowing with the tide when not snacking on creatures in the sand. I realized if I didn't startle them and moved really careful and slow they would probably let me stay because I had been there first when they decided to land by the ocean. As long as I kept my distance it turns out we were cool. Then the magic happened: Some of them came by the jetty and I picked out a couple of orange-legged, black-ringed-necked, two-toned beaked Piping Plovers.
FYI: "The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small, plump shorebird that breeds on Atlantic beaches from Newfoundland to Virginia, as well as on inland beaches from eastern Alberta and Nebraska east to the shores of Lake Ontario. In 1986 the piping plover was federally designated as endangered on the Great Lakes and threatened on the Atlantic Coast." NYC.gov
There is something significant about the appearance of this one in the above shot: "These small, stocky shorebirds have a sand-colored upper body, a white underside, and orange legs. During the breeding season, adults have a black forehead, a black breast band, and an orange bill." US Fish and Wildlife Service
The three pictures above are close-up details pulled from this one I that I took during sunset. This photograph has four orange legged black-ringed-neck Piper Plovers wandering in the throng (Emmy figured we should try to make it as easy as possible for you guys to spot them so we pulled out the details for you):
I'm glad I was shooting with the Sony instead of the Nikon today. My Sony produces 60x45 inch photographs, so when I want to capture eye candy to possibly convert into posters (or high-light a smaller section and create a series of photographs from a single original image for my blogs) I usually go with the higher resolution/format camera. That helped Em and I discover what we had because I was completely clueless regarding the significance of the birds surrounding me. I only took 38 photographs beach side today (and there are a lot of interesting birds in some of them). Had I known I had so many Piper Plovers, I would have switched to video so you guys could enjoy what I saw. The Piping Plovers et al were really enjoying the shores of our fave part of Far Rockaway for a while before a wandering couple strolling by inadvertently sent the birds into flight.
In the photograph below to the left there is a Piper Plover feeding with it's beak in the sand. The storm brought all types of tiny things to the surface and the birds appeared to be having a good time during their meal break. I found myself thinking this looks like a fowl cocktail hour (LOL).Did you know that every summer the Rockaway Beach area is turned into a nursery for the piping plovers?
In the photograph below on the right hand side you can see the orange legs of the Piper Plover who turned his back on me. Did you know that this is my first rare bird alert blog post? Emmy said I should blog it because sightings are logged by Piping Plover lovers. I may consider getting into birding after this because it was relaxing to watch them. Here is a NY Hotspot link if you think you may want to try it.
There are two Piper Plovers here on the left hand side in the photograph below. Shari Romar wrote a great post on the Arverne Piping Plover Nesting Area. She' into nature photography and writing so you may want to bookmark her website.
There's a Piping Plover in the water with its back to us on the left hand side in the picture below. Look for the orange legs. I've got more shots but I'd like to save them for future blog posts. There will defintely be more posts. Check this link out: Restoration Plan: Arverne Shorebird Preserve and Rockaway Beach :-) P.S. Short attention span people skip down to the bottom for the simple, non-scientific good stuff (LOL).
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