Photographing Shorebirds – Best locations in New York & New Jersey

Photographing Shorebirds – Best locations in New York & New Jersey
Common Tern

If you are on a short trip to New York or New Jersey during spring or summer season, then you might want to make some time to visit one of these beaches – Nickerson Beach (NY), Belmar beach (NJ) and Sandy Hook Beach (NJ).
In the past, I visited these beaches many times, and it is safe to say they are some of the best places to photograph common and uncommon shorebirds. And of course, early to mid-summer is the breeding season, making it totally worth it to go to these beaches for your photography sessions!
For those of us who adore the winged beings would agree that there is an inexpressible pleasure in capturing their birds in motion or photographing multitudes of these creatures.
Whether you’re in New York or New Jersey, we have a few fantastic beaches in mind where you can capture beautiful photographs of shorebirds. Read on to know about our top three locations.

Nickerson Beach (NY)

Common Tern

Nickerson Beach located on the south shore of Long Island, New York in Lido Beach is one of the best places to photograph a large number of nesting shorebirds, some of which are considered to be endangered.
The most common shorebirds, the ones that you can find at this beach include – American Oystercatchers, Least Terns (rare), Common Terns, Black Skimmers, and if you’re really lucky, you might also come across the feathery, sand-colored Piping Plovers and Semipalmated Plover.
These shorebirds bread at Nickerson beach. So, if you’re planning to visit this place, make sure that you come to this beach between April and August. Depending on the month you visit you get to see the nesting, mating or young hatchlings to juveniles. Early April to May is an excellent time to capture piping Plovers and Oystercatchers. On the other hand, early June is an excellent time to photograph young Oystercatcher chicks. The month of June is also an excellent month to capture the common tern mating and nesting. You might as well see some young common tern’s chicks too!
Common Tern’s, Black Skimmer’s and Oystercatcher’s eggs hatch in June-August; they stick around till September and then fly away. However, plovers are exceptional as they are the first to leave and generally don’t wait long, leaving the beach before September.
Here you can find amazing opportunities to capture all kinds of behaviors of these breeding and nesting species – from terrific flight shots to birds carrying their food in their mouths to fighting over their prey – you will find incredible moments for your photographs.
Although your trip to the Nickerson beach will prove to be an incredible one, the traffic congestion may cause some trouble. So, if you don’t want the traffic to mess with your creative process, visit this beach early morning before 8 AM!

Belmar Beach (NJ)

Known for sunny spots and amazing oceanfront, Belmar Beach is a popular destination at the Jersey Shore.
Belmar beach is known for nesting the endangered coastal birds such as the Black Skimmer, Least Terns, and Oystercatchers. But the good thing is due to the dedicated efforts of New Jersey’s wildlife refuge, there has lately been an increase in birds’ population to a certain extent.
The locals love this beach so again, if you really want peaceful time to photograph at low light and beat the crowd, the ideal time to visit this beach would be early in the morning or on weekdays.

 Although it’s not allowed to go near the breeding ground of these species (as it is quite evident by the “do not disturb” signs posted everywhere), you can still take amazing photographs of these species from a far distance if you have a decent lens such as 200-400mm or just 400 mm.

Sandy Hook (NJ)

Piping Plover

A part of Middletown Township, Sandy Hook is another great place for shorebirds photography. You can easily visit this beach through a beach shuttle service. You’ll be glad to ditch your car and hours of heavy traffic behind.
Common coastal birds you can find in this place, Piping Plover, Least Terns, Oystercatchers, Sanderling, the Semipalmated Plover and so on.
Grab your camera and get busy clicking photographs showing birds catching insects or worms and feeding them to their young ones.

So when should you visit either of these 3 beaches?
Generally, summer is a great time to come out and visit this place. Most of the shorebirds especially Black skimmers spend their winter in other parts of the region, but as spring or summer arrives, they migrate to Sandy Hook.
Irrespective of the bird you’re photographing, one thing you have to keep in mind is to take photos from a distance. Shorebirds are decreasing in numbers. So, it is vital that you do not disturb them and conduct your photo session with caution. Try photographing unique behaviors of these birds set against breathtaking backdrops provided to you courtesy of the location!

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