In the summer time before the shorebirds come back the birding can seem a bit slow. Sure, birds are around, especially if you are into fledglings, but the heat of the day and the voracious insects can make even the most dedicated birder start to flag. For hot, sunny days I have perfected the lazy birder’s method of birding. I sit in my car with the driver’s side facing a likely-looking puddle, preferably with the sun shining from the passenger side, and digiscope out my window. Birds need fresh water and puddles are often popular with them. My favorite puddle-birding spot of late is out in the Rockaways, just behind the boardwalk, in the scrub habitat that has formed in the area where development stalled in the wake of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

The puddles I’ve been frequenting feature a wide variety of birds, from Barn Swallows swooping in to Glossy Ibis dropping down for a quick drink. I’ve seen catbirds and robins, shorebirds and starlings. But when one of the big gulls drops in everyone gets out of the way. I particularly liked this Herring Gull. (And this isn’t the first time I’ve enjoyed watching Herring Gulls at a puddle!)

There is nothing particularly special about this Herring Gull other than its willingness to hang out next to my car.

I’m not sure exactly why, but it seems like gulls particularly like to stab into the water when they go for a drink.

The splashes are photogenic and the strong sun and white plumage allow for fast shutter speeds.

This bird was definitely aware of my presence as you can tell by the stink-eye its giving me here.

My presence didn’t prevent the gull from digging right into that puddle though.

Nor did it stop the bird from shaking off.

Birds don’t sweat so they can pant or get wet to get cool. I think, like this bird, I’d prefer getting wet.

Puddle birding. It’s what all the cool kids are doing.

I hope you enjoyed these shots, all of which were taken through my Swarovski STX 30-70 X 95 spotting scope attached to my Canon EOS 50D with the Swarovski TLS-APO digiscoping adapter.

If you want to see more great images of birds check out 10,000 Clicks, our gallery page full of links to hundreds of posts dedicated to a wide variety of species.


Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.