Friday, February 17, 2012

Feb 2012 Photo of the Month

 Shorebirds in flight @ Fish Haul Creek      
Photo of the Month / Eric Horan
February/2012 Lowcountry Calendar

Fall brings southbound shorebirds, escaping the unfriendly winter climates of the Arctic region. They begin arriving in October, and depending on the weather up north may still be arriving in December. The birds that come to our beaches travel thousands of miles in the Eastern Flyway against all odds, both natural and man made. On arrival they find a friendly, Eco-rich environment with a plethora of food choices from insects and invertebrates to small fish and horseshoe crab eggs. These foods restore and sustain them for their long return journey north in the spring.

When they are not feeding, mostly over the high tide, they congregate on high sandbars and oyster banks to rest. As the tidal waters begin recede, the Lowcountry’s rich food supply, once again becomes available and the birds disperse and begin feeding again.

Photo Tip: These sandbars and oyster banks are great places to observe and photograph shorebirds but great care must be taken not to stress them or keep them from this vital resting period. I have found that it is best to get set in position, before the high tide as the birds are still coming in. This way the birds are more apt to consider you part of the natural environment and will accept you sooner than if you attempt an approach after they are settled. But you also can work your way closer to birds that are still, it takes patience, keeping a low profile (lying down is best) and slow forward movements. This may allow you to get inside their initial comfort zone. Again, both methods require moving slowly and absolute quiet.

Experience has taught me that big flocks of birds will periodically take to the air naturally. At times it could be nothing more than exercise but sometimes it's precausion. They do have natural triggers, like when an eagle passes to close or, when one species jumps, it can trigger, with the blink of an eye, all birds to take off. So if flight shots are what you're after, patience is key. If you wait quietly the birds will take to the air by natural causes. There, will be times in our attempts to work around these birds that we cause the them to take flight but if we are sensitive to keeping a light footprint an becoming, to the best of our ability, part of the their environment then the natural world will repay you with an unforgettable outdoor experience and maybe even a few great images.

For more information about Eric Horan Photography, Inc., Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris or to order your 2012 Lowcountry Calendar visit