Flight Club

A photo essay.

The first rule of Flight Club is: You do not talk about Flight Club. Not in English, anyway. 

Chirps, caws, trills and squawks, however, are totally acceptable.

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You can hear that special language all around New Haven, and, despite a strong instinct for secrecy, its speakers may even let you take their picture. Seagulls, whom you can find waterside in places like Quinnipiac River Park and Fort Nathan Hale, are inclined to keep pretty still as long as you keep pretty still, at a distance of at least 20 feet. Same goes for the robins who fill New Haven’s trees with each winter’s waning.

For other, cagier subjects, you’ll need a fast shutter speed, accurate autofocus and confident trigger finger. Feathered in various shades of brown to match the leafless winter thicket in which they like to hide, the skittish house sparrows racing around Grove Street Cemetery are particularly good at thwarting your shot.

Sometimes you just have to get lucky. Some Octobers ago, in a twilit marsh along the West River, masses of speedy black specks appeared against a darkening sky. Several minutes apart, huge flocks would erupt from the top of this tree or that, shooting over and past the tree line in seconds. There was precious little time, or light, with which to frame, focus and shutter.

Sometimes you can make your own luck—or, as in my case, someone else can make it for you. It turns out the mallard ducks and Canada geese at the Edgewood Park duck pond will come right up to you if you’ve got starchy currency to spend.

At which point, Flight Club drops the first “l,” and the beaks come out.

Photo Locations:
1 & 5. Fort Nathan Hale Park.
2. High and Grove Streets.
3, 4 & 11. Edgewood Park duck pond.
6. Pardee Seawall.
7. State Street Station.
8. Grove Street Cemetery.
9. Quinnipiac River Park.
10. West River Memorial Park.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. This updated story originally published on February 26, 2016.

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Dan has worked for a couple of major media companies, but he likes Daily Nutmeg best. As DN’s editor, he writes, photographs, edits and otherwise shepherds ideas into fully realized feature stories.

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