A dunlin preens its feathers while bathed in the golden light of sunset on Plymouth Beach
On this early May trip to Plymouth Beach, I spent most of the late afternoon walking up and down the beach looking for cooperative shorebirds. They seemed to be opposed to staying in even smallish flocks for any substantial amount of time that day, and instead were feeding individually across the extensive exposed sediments. It was hard to find a place to set up to let the birds approach me, since predicting the path of an individual shorebird is nearly impossible. As the sun started getting low to the horizon, I thought I might have to head home without much on my memory cards. But then, a large flock of dunlin landed nearby -- and instead of feeding, they were preening and resting on a raised bar of sand. This bird stood alone on the edge of the flock as it preened its feathers before tucking in its bill for a nap.
A dunlin in late-spring plumage runs in front of a breaking wave on Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts
I had a really great series of spring trips to Plymouth Beach with plentiful spring shorebirds.This particular photo is from late-April, when the dunlin were just beginning to show signs of their summer colors.
A common tern watching the sky at Sandy Point State Reservation in Massachusetts
In early August I took my first and only trip to Plum Island for the summer. I was hoping to catch the front end of the fall shorebird migration, and while I saw a fair number of sandpipers, the breeding colony of terns was the real highlight. In general, I find terns to be a tough bird to approach, even with my standard slow-motion belly crawl. On this day, however, I was lucky to find a small group of common terns that were rather indifferent to me and let me crawl close. Unfortunately, I was only able to enjoy a few short minutes of photographic excitement before a beach runner came jogging by and ended my fun.
A common tern follows the flight path of an overhead flock at Sandy Point State Reservation
"Dad, what are we doing here? Is this really why we woke up at 3:30 this morning?"
I had some assistance as I photographed the sun rising over the Schoodic Peninsula in my prior post. My dog usually gets left behind when I'm going out to do photography, but he participated in our entire trip to Acadia National Park -- and he had the time of his life!
My little helper, learning to appreciate the sunrise as much as I do
Acadia is a great destination to travel with a dog, as both the National Park itself and the surrounding towns are remarkably dog-friendly. Dogs are allowed on most of the trails in the park (with the exception of a few that are particularly difficult and unsafe for four-legged companions) and it was easy to find restaurants with outdoor dining areas that welcomed dogs. We were even able to bring him shopping with us in a variety of little shops in downtown Bar Harbor that had posted signs in their windows inviting dogs inside. Acadia is going to be a regular summer destination for us, and it's great to know that there is such a wonderful place to visit without having to leave a certain member of the family behind!
By the way, if anyone in the Boston area is looking to adopt a homeless pet, we had a great experience at the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA a few years ago. The staff were really great with helping us to find an adult dog that fit our personality and lifestyle. Our dog has brought so much joy to us over the years, and there are many more at the shelter just like him who are looking for loving families!