Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

Back to the Beach: Ethan’s Amazing Photos May 3, 2009

Filed under: Animals,Birds,Seasons,Spring — saltthesandbox @ 9:35 pm
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I keep telling the boys that if you want to see great birds, you have to be persistent and patient. It turns out that persistence and patience also lead to great bird photos, especially when you add a little luck and a few relatively fearless birds. That’s how Ethan got his amazing photos of a Tricolored Heron when we returned to Waukegan Beach on Sunday. We were hoping to see at least one of the 88 Willets that we missed yesterday, and maybe see one of the two Piping Plovers that showed up there this morning.

But first, here are the Tricolored Heron photos. Ethan merely stood at the edge of the interdunal pond with another photographer and waited, and the heron eventually came to them:

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Tricolored Heron finally caught a fish! Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Tricolored Heron finally caught a fish! Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

That was a lot of work for a very small fish. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

That was a lot of work for a very small fish. Fortunately, it caught a lot of them. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

To see how all this posturing fits together into an effective fishing strategy, go here to see a high definition YouTube video made shortly after Ethan took his photos. Also, go here to see photos taken by the other photographer who was with Ethan. (He’s a professional with better equipment and much more experience.)

The Piping Plover was not quite as dramatic, but it was very cute. Again, Ethan waited patiently by the edge of a mudflat, and the bird came to him:

The Piping Plover seemed to be picking bugs out of the mud. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Piping Plover seemed to be picking bugs out of the mud. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Look at the legs. We saw no leg bands on any of our photos. This individual was not banded as part of the continuing research conducted on this endangered species. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Look at its bare legs -- we saw no leg bands in any of our photos of the Piping Plover. Apparently this individual was not banded as part of the continuing research conducted on this endangered species. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

To read more about efforts to save the Piping Plover, please go here or here (especially near the bottom of the page). Recreational use of beaches and dogs off leash can prevent Piping Plovers from nesting.

As Ethan was photographing the plover, some Forster’s Terns started fishing in the river behind it. They hovered overhead, then dove into the water to catch fish:

Forster's Tern hovering while looking for a fish. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Forster's Tern hovering while looking for a fish. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Note the white on the tip of the outer wing -- a clue that this is a Forster's Tern (and not a Common Tern). Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Note the white on the tip of the upper right wing -- a clue that this is a Forster's Tern (and not a Common Tern). Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

And finally, we did see a Willet — in fact, we saw seven of them at the far north end of the beach. Four Willets worked their way south along the beach until they got close enough for a photo.

Note the Willet's stout bill, short neck, and relatively plain coloration. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Note the Willet's long but stout bill, gray legs, short neck, and the small dark spots and bars that cover its body and upper wings. If it had flown we would have seen a bold white and black pattern on its wings, but these Willets just walked away. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Aaron lay down in their path, hoping they wouldn’t consider him a threat and would keep foraging right past him. No such luck. They turned back and foraged northwards to join the other three Willets.

But still, it was a great day!

 

One Response to “Back to the Beach: Ethan’s Amazing Photos”

  1. Kent Wilson Says:

    Terrific photos! Congratulations Ethan. Sharp and the exposure is right on.


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