This year I had to go twice to the South Jersey shore at Fortescue, NJ to photograph Horseshoe Crabs as they come ashore to mate. It rained heavily last weekend, and I had to shoot from the car quickly before the camera got wet.
The second time was yesterday, with plenty of sunshine. There were tens of thousands of birds of all kinds on a stretch of the beach no more than a quarter of a mile (0.4 km) long.
Red Knots depend on Horseshoe Crab eggs to replenish their energy during their long migration flight of 9,300 miles (15,000 km) from the tip of South America to the Artic. This year there were many of them, and they appeared well fed and in good shape.
For this challenge, http://ceenphotography.com/2015/05/19/cees-fun-foto-challenge-pairs/, today I witnessed a pair of Laughing Gulls in breeding plumage standing apart from all the thousands of other birds at the narrow beach in Heislerville, NJ on Delaware Bay. The two only paid attention to each other and did not join the other birds in their annual feast of horseshoe crab eggs at this time of the year.
Yesterday I noticed a strange animal behavior as I scanned Reeds Beach through my camera viewfinder. A group of laughing gulls was bobbing up and down from time to time. I thought it was due to camera shake, but I had the camera on a tripod, so that had to be ruled out.
Finally I remembered reading about that particular behavior. As you know, the gulls and other birds eat the eggs freshly spawned and buried in sand by female horseshoe crabs. The gulls have learned that they can get at the deeply buried eggs by stamping on the sand as the waves come in. Then as the waves recede, the disturbed sand is carried out to sea, revealing and leaving the eggs behind. Those smart gulls are laughing all the way to the bank.
The following photo shows the gulls stamping. Note that the water was coming in and the gulls had their heads up in the air. That long pointed thing sticking out in the middle of the picture was the tail of one overturned crab.
Six seconds later, the water had receded and all the gulls had their heads back down, eating crab eggs. Note the overturned crab tail was still there among the gulls.
Today a friend and I went to the southernmost part of New Jersey on the Delaware Bay. It was too early for the annual coming ashore of the horseshoe crab, which will happen in about two weeks. So we walked on the beach and I was able to take my first best shot of the red-winged blackbird, which some say is the most common bird in North America.
There were also other birds of course, such as sandpipers, gulls, and terns.
Sandpipers are small birds, not much bigger than sparrows, but the terns and gulls were larger.
The common tern is noticeable by its short feet.