Sunday's plan was to head out to Clarke's Beach for some shorebird action. The weather was forecasting cloudy with sunny breaks for the morning and the tide was going to be low for 7:00 am. Perfect conditions for some shorebird photography....Boy was I wrong.
Upon arrival I noticed the tide wasn't low at all and was already on the rise. See Clarke's beach is mostly made up of smooth beach rocks but at low tide there are patches of sand that is exposed and normally the shorebirds hang out there. It sets the scene for some nice images...here is a shot from last year of a Semipalmated Plover..
To my disappointment not one shorebird was on the beach. What do I do now? Drive the 45 mins back home to try and find something else to photography? I didn't have much choice since the tide was rising but before doing so I wanted to check the end of the beach where I've seen Ruddy Turnstones before. I looked down over the bank and there they were...three Turnstones feeding.
Approaching shorebirds from above and down a rocky bank was not going to be easy but what else could I do? So inch by inch I made my way down. At this point what little sun was peaking through clouds had now disappeared and it had become very dull. I had almost reached a possible shooting angle when one of the Turnstones decided to make a run down the beach to my right, then another, and then the last one...this now meant they would be back lit.
It was not turning out to be a good morning. Lucky for me there was no sun which allowed me to better expose my subject. As we all know if a subject is back lit you will have to over expose for your subject which in many cases blows out your background or you end up with a silhouetted subject.
The Turnstones kept their distance for a while so while I waited for them to become comfortable with my presence I tried to get creative with some different compositions. Here I wanted to have the subject appear very small in the frame and create a since of loneliness.
As the water continued to rise I captured this frame as one stood on the rocks at the waters edge as if enjoying the view
After a while they began to approach providing some nice close ups. The below image was my favorite from the day. The light colored rocks created a nice background to help show off the beautiful plumage of the bird.
One of the Turnstones had a green tag on his foot 5EC which really doesn't look great in photos so the only shot I will show of him was this one where I used the foreground rocks to hide the tag and his legs.
The only other shot I got from the day was this wing stretch just shortly before they all decided to take flight and marked the end of my morning session.
I wasn't overly satisfied by the images I was able to capture but given the situation I was happy with what I pulled off. I will certainly be making another trip out there and also one to Bellevue in the following 2 weeks before they lose their beautiful breeding plumage. When our shorebirds arrive most of them still have their breeding plumage but it does't last long. Normally by Sept its all gone. Here is a Ruddy Turnstone from last year in the first week of Sept. Still beautiful but not as impressive as when it's in its breeding plumage
Know everything you can about your subjects to provide you the best opportunities to capture the images you desire...