Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Horseshoe Crabs and the birds that depend on them...

horseshoe crabs on the beach
Although the first image is crabs, crabs and more crabs, the rest of this post (scroll down) will be birds who love to dine on their eggs. If I haven't missed the cutoff, I'll be posting this to World Bird Wednesday shortly. (am posting here instead of my other blog because this blog is where I post when the images tell more of a story than I want to tell on my photo blog... am WAY behind returning visits from last week but will be catching up before the weekend)

My cousin Jane, friends and myself went to Slaughter Beach, Delaware (and a few nearby spots) to view the annual mass breeding of the Horseshoe Crabs. They breed and come to shore, riding high tide in to the beach, in great numbers to deposit and fertilize vast numbers of protein rich eggs over a two week period (+/- a few days) every May. One of the best places to view this spectacle is Slaughter Beach on the Delaware Bay.

Blue Ridge Workshops provided a photography instructor and a naturalist guide for our "day at the beach" and some of us even got to try out HUGE lenses on our Nikon cameras. I failed miserably to get the hang of using a 600mm prime lens fitted with a 2x converter and think my Sigma 120-400mm zoom is much easier to use! (also would need someone to carry the rig for me if I were to use such a huge and heavy lens assembly) Too bad I forgot to pack the 1.4x converter for my Sigma lens.

And now for a few of the birds who dine on the eggs laid by the crabs...

Sanderlings and Turnstones
Sanderlings with a few Ruddy Turnstones mixed in (look closely and you might spot the Turnstones)

Sanderling with crab egg
The foreground Sanderling has a crab egg in its mouth. (larger view)

laughing gull
Laughing Gull, aptly named if you've ever heard them! Note Horseshoe Crabs on the beach too.

willet
Willet with tail of Horseshoe Crab visible, sticking out of the water on the left.

ruddy turnstones
A few Ruddy Turnstones with some blurry gulls on the water behind them.

8 comments:

MaineBirder said...

Very nice captures of these beautiful shorebirds!

Springman said...

How much fun was that?! I would have loved being there too! I think I would have skipped the 2x converter on a 600mm lens, talk about overkill! That had to be one massive outfit. Your photographs of this interesting happening are excellent Victoria, thanks for sharing!

Bill S. said...

Great post and the picture are great. It is amazing how different species depend on one another.

Andrew said...

A lovely read.
Good info and beautiful images many thanks for sharing.

eileeninmd said...

Great post and photos. Delaware is a great place to see the shorebirds. Usually the redknots like to feast on the horseshorcrab eggs. The first is is cool, I love seeing al the birds in flight.

Michelle said...

I enjoyed this post as I don't get to see shore birds except along Lake Erie and no horseshoe crabs...Michelle

Larry said...

Great shots of the birds and the crabs Victoria. The mass of Sanderlings and the close up shot with the little crab in its beak are very cool.

Pat said...

Great pictures of shorebirds and interesting info!