Flight Club

Flight Club

A photo essay. To view all 17 images, check out the email edition.

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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.

You can hear that special language all around New Haven, all year round, 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 Hale Park, are inclined to keep pretty still as long as you keep pretty still, at a distance of at least 20 feet.

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For other, cagier subjects, youโ€™ll need a fast shutter speed, accurate autofocus and confident trigger finger. Or 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 tops of different trees, shooting over and past the far tree line in seconds. There was precious little time, or light, with which to frame, focus and shutter.

Sometimes you can make your own luckโ€”or, as in my case, someone else can make it for you, by bribing birds with junk food. Iโ€™m not encouraging it, but the mallard ducks and Canada geese at the Edgewood Park Duck Pond will come right up to you if youโ€™ve got starchy currency to spend.

At which point, Flight Club drops the first โ€œl,โ€ and the beaks come out.

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

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