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 To avoid unintended disturbances, do not publish the specific location of a nest when sharing photos online.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 to help in the conservation of our feathered friends!

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