Tips for shorebird photography

Shorebird nesting season is in full swing on Navarre Beach! Rare species such as black skimmers, snowy plovers and least terns lay their eggs in our powdery white sands each year, and this time of year the chicks have almost all hatched.

Cute little fluffs of feathers are running around the marked nesting areas, making for a lot of bird watching fun.

This time of year, birdwatchers and photographers flock to colony nesting sites along Navarre Beach.

 

Here are a few simple tips for shorebird photography:

  1. Always remain outside posted areas. These birds are protected, and the posted areas help to keep them safe. Those nests and chicks can camouflage pretty well in the sand, putting them in danger of being trampled. Consider a zoom lens for detailed shots. I find that my 135 MM (pretty standard camera lens) does just fine.

 

  1. Do not get close enough to cause the bird to leave its nest, and never “push” birds around the beach by scaring them in the direction you want them to go. When the birds all take to the air, it is called “flushing.” This can be dangerous for the birds, especially with predators and passing cars.

Instead, be patient. The birds, especially the black skimmers, are really great at posing.

 

  1. Keep an eye out for predators such as raccoons, cats or crows. The scent of humans can attract these predators. If you see predators, move away for now. You’ll always have another chance to get the perfect shot, but these birds only have one chance to successfully raise their chicks.

 

  1. Try to keep photo sessions to 10 minutes at a time to avoid undue stress on the birds. I find that a quick photo shoot in the early morning hours before traffic can yield some great pics!

 

  1. To avoid unintended disturbances, do not publish the specific location of a nest when sharing photos online. But definitely tag #NavarreBeach and #Florida’sMostRelaxingPlace in any posts online!

 

  1. If you see bands on a bird’s leg, take the opportunity to be a citizen scientist and report it! These bands are tools to help researchers keep track of these birds and learn more about their habits. Report codes and colors to BandedBirds.org to help in the conservation of our feathered friends!

Ghost crab hunting no fun for sea turtles

On evenings this summer, Navarre Beach has looked something like Christmas Eve, all twinkling lights as people were out with bright flashlights looking for ghost crabs.

The crabs respond to the beam of light aimed at them, they pop out of their hole and the chase is on. Little ones and their parents are running and shrieking trying to catch a ghost crab. They scoop the tiny white crustacean up in their net, toss it into a bucket…only to let the poor thing go at the end of the night. On to the next hole to do it all over again.

This may sound like a fun time for all at the beach, but there is peril in this practice. This fun game with bright flashlights deters our sea turtles from nesting on Navarre Beach.

These endangered species have been struggling to find safe nesting habitats. Our nesting numbers are certainly not where they should be and have been declining, and this is one of the reasons why.

Visitors who don’t know any better are putting these endangered species in jeopardy with their bright flashlights. When I walk the beach some evenings, I will stop a few visitors to chat about the risks. Nine times out of ten they had no idea.

Sea turtles find their way by light. They navigate by the light of the moon, therefore when other lights are present, they become directionally confused. This season, we have had more than a few false crawls by sea turtles looking for a place to nest. There were three in one night. They crawl up on the beach and make a U-turn back to the water. The lights on the shore tell them it is not the right place to nest. They go look for another place.

As a visitor to our beach, you can do your part to protect sea turtles. Strolling the beach at night can be relaxing, and the views are breathtaking. Try not to use a flashlight or headlamp. Instead depend on the moon. It provides ample light to trace our beaches, and moonlights much more soothing.

If you need a light, use a red filter. The shorter wavelength of red light has minimal impacts on turtles’ sense of direction. There are phone apps that will make your light red, or you can purchase amber bulbs from our local Ace Hardware store for other lights. Ask the sales associate about turtle friendly bulbs.

And maybe if you are lucky you will get the treat of seeing one of our nesting sea turtles in action. If you do, keep your distance and stay quiet to let her do her thing. It is a rare but very, very cool experience.

Come be a part of our nesting season this year on beautiful Navarre Beach, just leave the flashlights at home, navarrelistings.com.

July events for Navarre Beach

Navarre Beach’s tourism office has some great suggestions for fun in the sun this month!

 

Sand Dollar Saturday and Local Marketplace

July 6, 9 a.m.

Join the merchants of Sand Dollar Plaza on the first Saturday of each month, for a community and customer appreciation event. Grab a bite to eat at Alphy’s, check out the gift shops, and visit the vendors at the Local Marketplace. For more information, call 850-368-9500 or visit www.facebook.com/SandDollarSaturdays.

 

Shell Flower Making Class at Artistry 98

July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Artistry 98, 1993 Hwy. 87 in Navarre, will offer a free shell flower making class. Class is limited to 10, reserve a seat at www.artistry98.com/classes.

 

Tunes by the Dunes

July 4, 11, 18, and 25 ,7 – 9 p.m.

The Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will begin their annual free summer concert series at the Sand Crab Pavilion in the Navarre Beach Pier parking lot, just east of the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, 8220 Gulf Blvd. in Navarre. Bring a lawn chair. Food will also be available for purchase. Call 850-939-32667 or visit www.navarrechamber.com  for more information.

  • July 4 – Robert Wayne
  • July 11 – Glenn Parker
  • July 18 – Remedy Band
  • July 25 – Chloe Channell

 

Archaeology in the A/C

July 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 2 p.m.

Study rare artifacts in the classroom and learn more about their history at the Arcadia Mill, 5709 Mill Pond Lane in Milton. New artifacts will be showcased every Tuesday in July during this free program for all ages. For more information call 850-939-32667 or visit www.historicpensacola.org/explore-arcadia-mill.

 

Florida’s Flora – Nature Tour of Arcadia Mill

July 13, 10:30 a.m.

Guests of all ages will learn how native plants were historically used. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes along the boardwalk and nature trails. Bring appropriate trail attire, bug spray and sunscreen. Purchase tickets at the Arcadia Mill Visitor Center at 5709 Mill Pond Lane in Milton. For more information, call 850-826-3084 or visit

www.historicpensacola.org/explore-arcadia-mill.

 

Enrichment Day at the Gulf Breeze Zoo

July 15, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Observe animals in their habitats at the Gulf Breeze Zoo, 5701 Gulf Breeze Pkwy in Gulf Breeze, with a variety of activities designed to encourage natural behaviors that animals would experience in the wild. For more information, call 850-932-2229 or visit www.gbzoo.com.

 

Clear Bottom Kayak Tours

July 13 and 27, 9 – 11 a.m.

Explore the Navarre Beach with a 45-minute clear bottom kayak tour of the Gulf side artificial reef. Meet at the Sea Oat Pavilion in the Navarre Beach Marine Park, 8739 Gulf Blvd. in Navarre. For more information, call 850-939-3267 or visit www.facebook.com/navarrebeachmarinesanctuary.

 

Shark School at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

July 4 and 20, 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Shark School students will learn about our local gulf coast sharks, shark biology and shark conservation. Students will also participate in arts and crafts, a shark tooth treasure hunt and gain early entry into the center. The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center is located at 8740 Gulf Blvd. in Navarre. For availability and pricing, call 850-684-3347 or visit www.tiny.cc/sharkschool.

 

Reefs and Robotics at the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station

July 8-12, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Introduce students to mechanical design, construction, problem solving, and teamwork skills at the Reefs and Robotics camp. Kids from sixth to eighth grade will build an autonomous underwater vehicle to explore the underwater world. The price for the camp is $300 and it will be held at 8638 Blue Heron Ct. in Navarre Beach. For more information, call 850-261-2141 or visit www.navarresciencestation.org.

 

Trash Bash with the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

July 27, 8 – 10 a.m.

Meet up to clean up! Volunteers for a beach cleanup will meet in the main Navarre Beach parking lot near the Sand Crab Pavilion. A limited supply of gloves, buckets and pickers are provided, or participants can bring supplies. For more information, call 850-684-3347 or visit www.navarrebeachseaturtles.org.

 

Book your stay at NavarreListings.com.