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Behind the Scenes: Filming on the New England Shoreline

With spring migration in full swing, a small squad from the Flyway of Life production team (composed of myself, Collin Moura, Matt Jersey and Seth Macey) have been hard at work filming on different locations throughout the northeastern Americas.

(From left) Former CT DEEP photographer Paul Fusco, myself, and CAS biologist/ecologist Stefan Martin observe a nearby piping plover. – ©Collin Moura

Recently, the film has teamed up with Stefan Martin, a biologist and ecologist with the Connecticut Audubon Society, to begin the process of filming sensitive shorebird species along the New England coastline.

Piping plovers, American oystercatchers, and other nesting shorebirds are extremely sensitive to shoreline development and can be equally sensitive to even distanced human presence (including nature photography and filming). This is why it is extremely necessary to film with a biologist on-site so myself and the crew know the do's and don't's when around such sensitive animals. Stefan guided us through several locations, making sure to stay well-away from possible nests while also educating us on the shorebirds we were searching for.

"It is extremely necessary to film with a biologist on-site so myself and the crew know the do's and don't's when around such sensitive animals."

A piping plover adult poses for a brief portrait. ©Tomas Koeck

The piping plover is an example of a bird species that is at high risk. With under 8,000 individuals in the wild, these small shorebirds are subject to rapid population decline if their habitat is destroyed. To make matters worse, they nest on the ground, making them susceptible to predation, development, and even an unknowing walker. Many shorebirds, like the piping plover, will do little to showcase where their nest is, in fact that is the very point, camouflage is how these birds avoid constant predation from foxes, raccoons, and even crows.

american oystercatcher by Tomas Koeck
An American oystercatcher waltzing by the camera crew made for an excellent photography subject! ©Tomas Koeck

American oystercatchers are a more common and far larger shorebird that can frequent beaches along the eastern American shoreline. They are very recognizable, their bright orange bill and charismatic appearance makes them very noticeable. While not as rare as the piping plover, these birds are still considered of "high concern" by the National Parks Service. They lay their eggs in the same habitat as piping plovers, habitat that grows less available every year due to land development.

Because of the sensitivity of these shorebirds, I made an effort to get in touch with other videographers who I knew would do things right and do things well. Contributing to Flyway of Life is wildlife lover and digital artist, Rina Miele. Rina's digital media prowess is applicable to a wide range of mediums. While she has taken on large projects in creative directing and graphic design (such as American Museum of Natural History, Boston Globe, Discovery, Entercom, ESPN, Harvard, HBO, Nintendo, Pepsi, Rockstar Games, and many others) one of her "accidental" specialties (that has merited her much respect in the bird photography world) is shorebird media. We welcome Rina to the project and are glad to have someone part of this team who is as focused in the bird safety as she is in getting "the shot".

Rina Miele
Rina's snaps a shot while scouting the coastline for bird subjects.

Filming will continue as the season progresses and we look forward to showcasing the footage obtained within the project. It is worth noting that coverage like this would not be possible without the hard work of those within the Connecticut Audubon Society. To the CAS employees reading this, thank you for all that you do!

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