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Thread started 30 Apr 2011 (Saturday) 17:47
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A matter of life

Looking around nervously
18,758 posts
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Joined May 2008
Location: NJ USA
Apr 30, 2011 17:47 |  #1

It isn't often that you get a life bird... and maybe save a life (or lives) at the same time. Only time will tell all of the story; all I have -- and it's more than enough for me -- is my little part of it.

I went down to the Sandy Hook area of Gateway National Park today since (a) it's the weekend, (b) the weather is good and (c) I am soooooooo tired of being stuck indoors. And found just about nothing. A definitely UNbirdy day. None of the warblers I had expected. Few predators (an osprey overhead was about it). Not even a lot of gulls. It may have been in part because there was a beach cleanup underway and the birds were staying undercover. But definitely NOT a good bird day.

I grabbed some nature shots as I walked, and had just about decided to leave when I reached the end of one trail. To my right was the Fisherman's Trail -- a trail I often decide not to take because it's long, it's entirely soft sand (so it's hard to walk on) and it's not terribly often that there's much good at the other end. But I ran into another photographer (Canon 400 f5.6 on a 40D) and she said there were piping plovers on the beach.

Piping plovers! A life bird for me! And an endangered species here in New Jersey. Off I went down the trail. I didn't find the plovers right away when I got to the water. I might not have found them at all had it not been for a pair of birders who waved me over and pointed out a single plover.

I watched and took pictures from a distance for a while. The birders left as I was trying carefully to move closer. And closer. And closer. And on my belly wriggling closer even. (My admiration for those who do that as a matter of routine. I'm covered with sand.) I moved around taking shots from different angles, a little surprised that the bird didn't move.


Another plover flew in and I got shots of that one too.





And that's when it hit me. (I'm a little slow at times.)

This wasn't just a pair of plovers. This was a pair of NESTING plovers.

Just about the time that dawned on me, the plover on the nest moved out of the nest and I could see that there were at least two eggs in the nest.


I started to move slowly away, grabbing one last shot as the plover got back on the nest and gazed down at the eggs.


As I backed away, I realized there was a problem: this nest was outside the area set aside by the park service for the protection of endangered nesting birds. It was out in the open in an area where fishermen tramp through on their way to and from the fishing beach, where kids and their parents walk to and from the beach to gaze out at New York City on the other side of the bay. I grabbed for my cellphone... no service out there.

I marked the nest in a way that I hoped the rangers could find it but wouldn't call attention to it by others, took a photo of the location to help the rangers, and hightailed it back to the car as fast as I could. Got to the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory, got the ranger number from them and then met the ranger who responded. I offered to go with him and the bird expert to the nest but he was confident they'd find it from the photo I showed them.

The nest will be fenced off so people don't go near it. Don't know if this little plover family will make it. But it sure feels good knowing I did what I could to give them a chance.

-- jgr
blog (external link) | gear | my birds (external link)http://photos.jgrussel​​pK9fK (external link)

Am I psychic or what?!?
3,133 posts
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Joined Dec 2010
Location: In the shadows of Houston
Apr 30, 2011 17:54 |  #2

Awesome captures and a wonderful think you did.

It's my life and I'll get pissed if I want to.
"Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar." - E.R. Murrow

Cream of the Crop
12,032 posts
Gallery: 79 photos
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Joined Jun 2007
Location: Lower Alabama
Apr 30, 2011 17:56 |  #3

These are fantastic shots Judy, and good for you getting in touch with the rangers. Hopefully they'll make it.


"If you want to see birds, you must have birds in your heart." -- John Burroughs

Wallace ­ River
" ...a bit of a pervy voyeur "
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Location: Wallace, Nova Scotia
Apr 30, 2011 18:01 |  #4

Good for you, Judy. And awesome shots. TOTALLY.:)

IAN - Living life on the shores of the Wallace River in northern Nova Scotia, Canada :
Canon 1D4, 1D-X, 1D-X II, almost enough glass.
My Flickr (external link).

1,387 posts
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Joined Jul 2010
Location: Sioux Lookout, On
Apr 30, 2011 18:32 |  #5

See, turned out to be an un-unbirdy day after all!
Grea shots and great story....

www.northwoodsphotogra​ (external link)

Cream of the Crop
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Apr 30, 2011 18:40 |  #6

First and foremost I applaud your effort to protect this nest Judy, that's what separates a great nature photographer and enthusiast from most casual observers. You took action and it will make a difference for these struggling birds. Bravo!!

Your shots are excellent and coincidently I came across my first Piper in breeding color this morning. I didn't get nearly as close as you were able to but it was awesome to see one. Thanks to your effort and others like you I just might see more in the future.

Canon Gear: 1D Mark IV | 1D Mark II | 5D | 20D | 500L IS (f/4) | 100-400L
SteveEllwoodPhotograph​ (external link)

4,623 posts
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Joined Jul 2010
Location: Lilburn, GA
Apr 30, 2011 19:23 as a reply to  @ Nighthound's post |  #7

Judy, what a wonderfully heartwarming story...both well told and well illustrated w/absolutely gorgeous captures of those delicate birds. Get an addition to your "life" and potentially save multiple just doesn't get any better than that.

1DMk4, 5DMk3, D4s, D800
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Cream of the Crop
12,926 posts
Joined Apr 2010
Location: Nova Scotia ,canada
Apr 30, 2011 19:25 |  #8

awesome set Judy

Diamond ­ Lil
Cream of the Crop
6,495 posts
Likes: 1
Joined Jan 2009
Apr 30, 2011 19:34 |  #9

Judy! Congratulations on your life bird find and thank you for a wonderful narration and outstanding photographs. How many would not have done as you did. We all owe you a debt of gratitude.

Wow do I have a lot to learn! The Chosen Spot, NY
50D, EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM, EF 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM, EF-S 17-85 f4-5.6 IS USM, EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM, EF 1.4X III Extender, Flight Brace (external link)

Cream of the Crop
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Joined Jan 2010
Location: Central Oklahoma
Apr 30, 2011 20:40 |  #10

super series, Judy

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Joined Feb 2009
Location: Sharps Chapel, Tenn
Apr 30, 2011 21:00 |  #11

Way to go Judy! A good deed is always payed in kind.

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Senior Member
521 posts
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Joined Sep 2010
Location: Alberta
May 01, 2011 01:00 as a reply to  @ trmwf's post |  #12

spectacular shots!

Joe ­ Ravenstein
2,338 posts
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Joined Mar 2010
Location: E Tx
May 01, 2011 04:53 |  #13

Excellent images and thank you for taking the extra effort to help protect a vanishing species.

Canon 60D,18-55mm,55-250mm,50mm compact macro, AF ext tubes. Sigma 8-16mm uwa, 18-250mm, 85mm F1.4, 150-500mm

Cream of the Crop
29,367 posts
Likes: 293
Joined Nov 2004
Location: Sierra Vista, AZ
May 01, 2011 06:05 |  #14

Great story and wonderful thing you did. Beautiful photos, too.

Stan (See my gallery at​parker1 (external link))

7D, 50D, 300D, EF-S 10-22 mm, EF-S 18-55 mm kit lens, EF 24-105 L IS, EF 50 mm 1.8, Sigma 150-500mm (Bigmos)

Senior Member
350 posts
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Joined Sep 2010
Location: Cromer, Norfolk
May 01, 2011 06:50 as a reply to  @ sparker1's post |  #15

Great pictures and story, thanks for sharing (and caring)

Leigh Caudwell.
Canon 7D, Canon 7D MkII, 24-105L ,18-135 kit, 100L IS Macro, 100-400L, Sigma 8-16, Speedlite 580EX II, MR-14ex Ring Flash, Kenko Tubes

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A matter of life
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