Yesterday on the fifth I visited a local spot in Quincy, to photograph some shorebirds. It is at the northern end of a small park that juts out into an inlet from the ocean. Low tide exposes mudflats that are prime feeding grounds for migrating shorebirds. I had been checking this spot for the past few days, seeing what kinds of species were present: Several hundred Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers, a few Least Sandpipers, and the occasional Greater Yellowlegs or Spotted Sandpiper. There hadn't been too much diversity but there were large enough numbers. Also present were many Least Terns, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and the odd Great Blue Heron. My highest Snowy Egret count was 36 foraging on the ocean side at low tide.
At my spot yesterday, I lay down on the rocky beach, and as I've learned to do with shorebirds, I let them come to me. It worked like a charm. Semipalmated Plovers came to within minimum-focusing-distance, and Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers cruised the waters edge within fifteen feet of me. Farther away, three Greater Yellowlegs combed the water methodically as a group, and two Short-billed Dowitchers came ever closer, drilling into the mud with their long bills, until they were right in front of me.
The Plovers seemed to stake out their small waterfront property and loudly chase any intruders away, keeping all of the worms for themselves. I took home a few nice pictures, though the light was harsh as it was late in the morning.
I eventually found a Spotted Sandpiper that was hanging out on a small section of beach. It was very approachable but I didn't seem to be able to get the right angle on it. I walked back to the car and eventually made it back to the spot with my swim suit on. The small sandpiper was still there, and with my body submerged in the water up to my neck, I sat photographing it. As far as Spotted Sandpipers go, in my experience, this one was very photogenic and posed often. As a result I got some great low-level shots with the still water in the foreground. As I walked satisfied back through the water a Dragonhunter buzzed out from the shore and joined me on my shoulder for a full minute as I continued to walk. Had I known what species it was at that point (and its food preference) I might not have felt so comfortable about having it on my shoulder.