Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Falling Tide

I always enjoy walking along the edge of the bay in the early morning and yesterday morning was particularly enjoyable. It was still cool enough that walking was enjoyable and there was a little breeze to keep the worst of the biting insects away. The tide had been high an hour or so before I got down there and the sand flats were beginning to be exposed. I had walked along to a little rocky inlet where the shoreline turns. I was looking to see if I could see the pair of Pied Oystercatchers that often sit out there when I realized that there were a lot of small shorebirds out there as well. The only problem about trying to see shorebirds that early in the morning is that the shore runs north and south so looking out over the bay is looking directly into the bright morning light. I walked out towards the birds and they were almost in silhouette against the light.
I slowly went closer but at an angle so that the light would be 'side on' and watched for signs that I was not disturbing them. I had just got into a good position and had taken a few photos which showed that they were mostly Lesser Sand-Plovers when there was a dog's bark from further up the beach and some more morning walkers passed along the beach behind me. Suddenly the birds all flew up and out across the water. There must have been at least two hundred in the flock. Most of them had been invisible hidden amongst the rocks.
I turned to go back closer to the shoreline when I realized that there was another group of birds on another sandbank that had come out of the water by this time. There were more Lesser Sand-Plovers as well as a number of Bar-tailed Godwits. It was interesting to see the difference in size between the two.
The tide was going out quite fast now across the sand flats and as it fell the larger shorebirds moved out into the water to hunt for food. Every now and then I could see their bills probing down into the water after some piece of suitable food. The exposed sand was still covered with a sheen of water and there was movement all over as the smaller shorebirds pecked at the soft sand.
If the weather stays calm then it should be perfect for kayaking in the same area in a couple of days time.
For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly.


  1. Hi Mick
    Perfect shot of the Godwit with the LSP.
    First "silhouette shot" is lovely, if only for showing how hard it is to see details in that light. {Pretty image, though).

  2. Thanks Denis, it's hard to see anything in light like that. I take the photos and watch the birds - and sort it all out when I get home.

  3. The fun of sorting the pics out at home is when you spot something you didn't see at the time. It extends the wonder just that little bit longer. (Well, there's also frustration at not having noticed whatever it was at the time ... but you can't have everything!)

  4. Hi Snail, I very apt summary of what often happens!

  5. Great shot of the Lesser Sand-Plover Mick. The comparison photo of the Godwit and Plover is very cool. I feel for you on the "into the light" predicament but it's nice to see that you got the angle for some nice photos.

  6. Thanks Larry. Of course when I am out on the kayak it's different - perfect lighting. Just need perfect weather to get out there.

  7. Those two birds are very different in size- it looks like one can swallow the other!

  8. Those Sand Plovers were difficult to identify a week ago in Egypt. I settled for Greater but your Lesser sure looks similar with a finer bill