The First of My Beach Birds


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Oct 4, 2011
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The Beautiful Hills of East Tennessee
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Just now starting the picture-processing ordeal from vacation.

My sister and I went to Saint Simon's Island (coastal Georgia); having spent my high school years and more in Atlanta, I'd spent my share of time in Savannah, and had even been to Skidaway Island once, eons ago, on a long field trip while still in school. But somehow, I never made it to St. Simon's or Jekyll Island. My mistake! It was beautiful and one of the most relaxing vacations I've had in recent memory.

90% of our time was comprised of three activities: sitting at the beach, eating and take pictures of birds. Well, and drinking. :lol:
My sister is also an avid photographer, but nowhere near as obsessed with birds as I am--nevertheless, she graciously helped scout out new spots to try to help me find birds I didn't already have--especially ones I'm not likely to get here in landlocked TN.

Depending on how many of my terns and gulls end up being different types, I got decent pictures of somewhere between 10-12 new birds, so I was pretty happy!

I'm still trying to process pictures, and deciding which ones to post here, but I thought I'd start with just a few random ones.

1. Black Skimmer. Not only did I not have this already, I'd never even heard of it. I caught a glimpse of one and missed the shot, because from a distance I thought it was the same as the other terns I was photographing at the time. After that, it proved quite elusive, but I finally got this shot on our next-to-last evening there.

2. Terns and Gulls are harder to ID than sparrows!! There are so many different ones, and it's impossible for someone who isn't a true birder to sort them all out. This is a tern...of some sort. :D

3. A laughing gull. I think. Or maybe not.

4. Male boat-tailed grackle.

5. Female boat-tailed grackle.

6. Beauty and the Beast. :D An ugly wood stork surrounded by the elegantly beautiful little snowy egrets. I never did get close enough to get a really good picture of a snowy egret. I guess that means I'll just have to go back. :D

I've got some better pictures in terms of IQ, I promise! (I won't promise how MANY of them I've got, though!). These were just some I found interesting for one reason or another. I'll probably post separate threads for some Egret shots and Pelican shots, and then one more for the "better" shots of other birds. Plus a few non-bird pictures I actually did manage to take.

As always: C&C, general comments and witty banter are all welcome here. :D
That's some great variety. :) Sounds like it would be a nice vacation, although too hot for my blood. :)

Some nice shots ! I need to send you some hot-spots for that area. Did you go to driftwood beach, on Jekyll ?
Some nice shots ! I need to send you some hot-spots for that area. Did you go to driftwood beach, on Jekyll ?

No, we didn't. I really wanted to, but I was also trying REALLY hard to not spend every moment of every day out hunting birds. My sister was exceedingly patient and enjoyed getting some good bird shots herself, but she *really* doesn't quite get how I can stand in one spot for hours on end waiting for THE bird shot, and I didn't want her vacation to be one of sitting around waiting for me. She did some of that anyway; she'd shoot the birds that were there, but then got tired of it and would go sit in the car. She was always happy to let me keep shooting, but like I said, I didn't want her vacation to just be sitting in the car waiting on me.

We DID spend a day on Jekyll, and I'll tell more of that story in a separate thread. We went to Jekyll for the dolphin boat tour (the boat picture I posted in another thread is from off the coast of Jekyll), and then spent most of the rest of the day hunting for birds or lunch. Actually, I think we spent longer hunting for a good lunch spot than anything else. We ended up on the opposite end of the island from Driftwood, down on the southern tip, at the recommendation of a woman from the Tidelands Nature Center. Only saw two great egrets (and a buzzard, and a few gulls) there, but I did get some rockin' pictures of the egrets.

Driftwood will have to go to the top of the priority list for the next trip!
All of these are good, but #5 FTW - great timing.
Tern is Caspian

Caspian is one of the ones I thought this might be, but in the pictures I've seen of them, they have a solid black cap, not this little "comma"-like place on their heads. Juvenile maybe? Or a juvenile least tern? Or common...or Forster''s just confusing! :D

EDIT: UPDATE on the Tern ID. After submitting similar pictures to a Bird ID group on Flickr, I'd say this is a Royal Tern. I *did* get a picture of a Caspian tern, which I'll include in another thread of some more of the beach birds, hopefully at lunch time today.
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As always, nice captures and I agree about #5.

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