Bird Fishing at Sandy Hook

I was excited as I eagerly awaited the chance to utilise my brand new XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR superzoom lens. I signed up for several bird-watching expeditions with the New Jersey Audubon Society to make the most of my new acquisition. The first outing was originally scheduled for a Saturday but was postponed until Sunday due to inclement weather. According to the forecast for Sunday, we could expect chilly winds but clear skies. As I arrived at the designated meeting spot in parking lot B, I immediately noticed that the wind was stronger and colder than anticipated. To combat the harsh elements, I was compelled to wear my Patagonia winter jacket over my Patagonia spring jacket to stay cosy and warm throughout the outing.

We began our birdwatching excursion after receiving an introduction from our leaders, Linda Mack, Carole Hughes, and Chris Daly. After that, we headed towards the dunes near "Lot B". After not finding any good bird sightings for about 20 minutes, we decided to move further north towards Area "F" and Sandy Hook Fishing Beach. Unfortunately, the sun was already high above the horizon, which is not the ideal time for bird photography. My past experiences with photographer Ray Hennessey taught me that the best time for bird photography is early morning or late evening when the sun is rising or setting. The bright sky can overwhelm the camera's sensor, creating silhouettes. However, birders don't think much about this issue as the human eye can adjust to the scene.

Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

As I gazed out into the distance, I noticed a sizable group of birds hovering above a boat anchored far offshore. Unfortunately, it was difficult to capture a clear photo of any bird due to the distance. The sun's reflection on the water also made it challenging to photograph them as they appeared as dark silhouettes. Nonetheless, I took a couple of shots of birds flying overhead, and I believe one was an osprey.

Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

We left Sandy Hook Fishing Beach and headed to "Lot L" where we walked along a scenic trail through the trees to reach Beach 1. Although we were able to spot a few more birds, I only managed to capture one usable photograph of them in the trees.

Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

I don't understand why I bothered to go out with my camera on that freezing morning after the sun was up. I hoped to learn about bird migration patterns. Given that the information I found online from the New Jersey Audubon and other websites was too general, I had thought that the best way to get specific details was from local birders. However, I didn't get much help from them either. I learned that May might be the best time for beach bird photography, but overall, the trip was a waste of time. I ended up leaving early when the group stopped for lunch.

Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
Sunday 2 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

Author: Khürt Williams

A human who works in information security and enjoys photography, Formula 1 and craft ale.

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