Sweet Seabird Photography at Nickerson Beach Park, New York

Nickerson Beach Park is located on the south shore of Long Island, New York, in Lido Beach. It’s about 6 miles west of the better known (and much more crowded) Jones Beach. The beach area covers 3,500 feet of ocean shoreline, a bit over half a mile long.  Nickerson is a favorite destination for bird photographers from far and wide due to its concentration of nesting Black Skimmers, Common Terns, and American Oystercatchers in the late spring and summer months. There are also Piping Plovers, Least Terns, and four species of gull, including Laughing Gull.

American Oystercatcher at Nickerson Beach Park by Melissa Groo

American Oystercatcher at Nickerson Beach Park (© Melissa Groo)


Famed photographer Arthur Morris has brought much attention to this spot as a prime bird photography destination, and can sometimes be found leading workshops here, as can other expert photographers.

Here you’ll have great opportunities to capture breeding and nesting behavior and fledglings/juveniles of the above species. I think it’s also a terrific place for flight shots, as skimmers and terns carry food back to fledglings, or fight over territory or prey. Go at sunset to get that spectacular last light of the day on them as they fly gracefully overhead.

Black Skimmer Skirmish at Nickerson Beach Park by Melissa Groo

Black Skimmer Skirmish at Nickerson Beach Park (© Melissa Groo)

Insider tips: Pick a day when good weather is forecast. Arrive a few moments before sunrise, park in the southeast corner of the parking lot, and walk the beach from east to west, so that you are always shooting with the sun at your back. Bring knee pads. You’ll want to get super low here to get the chicks at their level.

Common Tern Chick at Nickerson Beach Park by Melissa Groo

Common Tern Chick at Nickerson Beach Park (© Melissa Groo)

Nickerson Beach Park costs $8 for Leisure Pass holders and $30 for non-Leisure Pass holders. A leisure pass is $80 for the season. The parking fee also covers your beach admission.

Important note: Nesting areas are roped off to protect the birds. Please be sure to respect these boundaries and do not go beyond (or insert your long lens beyond) these demarcations. This is a very special place that we are privileged to be able to visit and photograph, and some of these birds are threatened/endangered.

Melissa Groo

Melissa Groo

Melissa Groo is a wildlife photographer living in upstate New York. Her passion for wildlife, conservation, and ethical photography drives her to tell stories and educate people about the marvels of the natural world through Read More

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  • Joseph Nguyen September 14, 2016, 22:06

    I would like to know what month of the year is the best time for photograph the birds.

  • Maria April 25, 2017, 20:11 Reply
  • Quanguo yang May 18, 2017, 17:04

    Hi, when is the time to see Black Skimmer Skirmish at lido beach

  • Wayne Wolfesberger November 14, 2017, 15:42

    I generally do most of my shore bird photography in Chincoteague-Assageague area or Delaware Bay.
    I am looking for new locations and have not yet explored NJ or Long Island. Looking forward to doing so. Your information is very helpful and I will contiure to do more research.
    Enjoyed your presentation at Nature Visions on 4 November and talking with you at the dinner afterwards. Wayne

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