kayaks and oyster catchers


This past weekend I undertook a 3 day kayak trip to Shackleford Banks North Carolina. This island is home to the only other population of wild horses in the state. For several years now I have salivated over the idea of doing a multi-day kayak trip out to the island to photograph the horses, and so finally I managed to make it happen.

While I was exploring the sand flats and oyster beds around the sound side of the island, I noticed that there were an incredible number of oyster catchers in the area. This theoretically made since considering the number of oyster beds, but considering it is North Carolina these birds are typically hard to come by. Well not on Shackleford.

I had photographed these birds numerous times around the inlets up on the Outer Banks where I live – namely Oregon Inlet and Ocracroke Inlet, but the northern islands are devoid of oyster beds. Thus, to finally have the chance to photograph these birds on oyster beds instead of probing around in the sand was pretty exciting for me (yeah, wildlife photographers can really be dorks sometimes).

Shooting from my kayak, I was already at eye level and able to take advantage of both a low profile so as not to spook the birds, but also to use the island shoreline as a patterned background in the photograph. Its truly amazing sometimes at just how close you can get to wildlife in a kayak before they start to show any signs of anxiety or stress. The low profile along the waters edge seems to really put them at ease and I managed to slowly work my way to within 20 feet of these birds.

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