Showing posts with label Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Show all posts

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sanderling and reflection, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Photograph of a sanderling walking with its reflection in Massachusetts

This trip to Parker River NWR in October 2014 was one of the most productive sandpiper encounters I've ever had. I came across a very friendly flock of sanderlings a little before sunset, and I stayed with them until it was too dark to shoot anymore. As they went through their evening rituals of feeding, preening, and bathing, the sun went from subtle warmth behind high clouds, to brilliantly golden as it slipped to the top of the dunes, to deep pastels as day faded into night. It was one of those encounters that left me feeling so connected to nature, one that in the moment you hope can last forever, but ultimately I had to force myself to slowly back away and head to the car as darkness spread over the beach.

View more photographs of sanderlings


Friday, November 27, 2015

Sanderling feeding at low tide, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Photograph of a sanderling pushing its beak through the sand at Parker River NWR

A belated Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you enjoyed your meal and socializing socializing with family and friends as much as this sanderling did the day before. A busy semester has kept me inside since September, so it felt great to finally get out to the beach for a sunset on Wednesday. While the temptation is always there to search for snowy owls on a winter trip to Plum Island, I was focused on finding a flock of shorebirds to photograph. I started my trip at the Lot 6 beach, and from the crest of the dunes I saw a small flock (about 30 birds) of sanderlings and dunlin. It didn't take too long to win their trust, and it felt awesome to lay out in the cold sand as the flock surrounded me. The extreme low tide this week seemed to provide an extra feast for the birds, as there were many places where the whole flock dug their bills into the sand while making quite an excited and loud ruckus of "peeps." The party scene ended abruptly though when something spooked the flock and they took off up the beach. While I didn't get to photograph them in the best light of the day, it was still invigorating to spend time with shorebirds again.

View more photographs of sanderlings.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sanderling in the last rays of sunlight, Parker River NWR

Photograph of a sanderling on the beach at sunset

I'm always preferential to the sunrise when I have the chance, but last autumn I had a couple of really successful sunset trips in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. I spent about an hour working with a friendly flock of sandpipers at the Lot 7 beach in pleasant evening light, but as the sun prepared to slip behind the dunes this sandpiper really started glowing in the warm final rays.

View more photographs of sanderlings.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sanderling stretching in evening light, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sanderling stretching in evening light in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

I've been back to Parker River NWR a few times since this October evening with the hopes of having a chance to experience something like this again. Any time spent with a flock of friendly sandpipers is a win in my book, but this particular evening was really special with the colorful reflections of an evening sky.

View more photographs of sanderlings


Monday, December 22, 2014

Barred owl in the forest at sunset, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Barred owl in the forest at sunset in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

I saw a small flock of shorebirds near beach #6 on an otherwise quiet afternoon trip to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. But as I was working my way back up the island I came across a cluster of photographers gathered along the side of the road. As I slowly approached it was easy to see why such a gathering had formed, this beautiful barred owl was perched in clear view at the edge of the forest.

View more photographs of owls and other birds of prey.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sanderling flaps it's wings, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sanderling wing flap in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

This sanderling put on quite a show while I shared the beach with its flock in October. It was great to watch it splash and clean its feathers, and it finished by standing tall and flapping its wings. I really like this image and had a hard time leaving it out of my top ten Favorite Photographs of 2014. I consider it an honorable mention, but I personally preferred the flying water droplets and splashing action of some other images from this series.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Extra low angle shorebird photography

Sanderling low in the water at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Recently, I've adjusted my shorebird photography style to get even lower to compress the depth of field further. Beginning with some of my earliest attempts at photographing shorebirds, I've found it to be the most satisfying experience to lay prone in the sand throughout my approach and time with the birds. For me, it's absolutely critical to put myself on an even plane with my subjects, allowing for a direct connection with their eyes. However, up until this spring, I had almost always done so with my camera mounted on the ballhead atop my tripod with the legs spread out flat. This meant that I had good stability for my camera as well as a reasonably low angle, but the center of the lens was still 4 or 5 inches above the ground by the time you add up the height of the flat tripod, ballhead, and lens foot. I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with my images from this setup, feeling like my depth of field was too great and my contact angle with a sandpiper's eye was from a bit too high.

Starting with some trips to Plymouth Beach in the spring, I decided to alter my standard technique. Now, instead of leaving the camera on the tripod, after I've made my approach, I'll hold the camera with the bottom of the lens hood resting on an outstretched tripod leg. This allows me to keep the body of the camera just above the sand, meaning that I'm truly reaching an eye-level elevation for my shorebird subjects. The real benefit is that now I'm able to place my plane of focus directly perpendicular to my subject, effectively narrowing my depth of field. Granted, I'm still shooting at f/8 on my trusty Tamron lens so my actual depth of field hasn't changed, but by altering the angle relative to my subject I've been able to generate what I find to be much more pleasing foregrounds and backgrounds.

Because I'm still resting my lens hood on a stable surface (my tripod leg), I haven't noticed a decrease in the number of sharp images with my adjusted style. I have noticed a bit more sand on to my equipment, which is certainly a negative, but my Storm Jacket camera sleeve is a great way to keep things relatively clean. In the end, I feel like I've taken my shorebird photography to a new level, and I just wish I had made this simple change to my approach years ago!

View more sanderling photography


Friday, November 14, 2014

Sanderling splash, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sanderling splashing as it takes a bath at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
A sanderling ruffles its feathers and splashes water as it bathes in the shallows at Parker River NWR

When I photographed this flock of sanderlings at the Lot 6 Beach in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge last month, I set up in my ground level position fairly near to the edge of the receding tide. I barely had to move over the next 45 minutes as the flock surrounded me and the birds went about their collective evening routines. It was a delight to share space with them in the fading light, but especially to watch the birds wade and bathe in the shallow water of the ebbing tide. I had never been quite this close to a splashing shorebird before, but I'd love to have the chance to repeat the experience again!

View more photographs of sanderlings


Monday, November 3, 2014

Searching semipalmated sandpiper, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Searching semipalmated sandpiper in Parker River NWR
A semipalmated sandpiper searches the exposed sands for a late afternoon meal in Parker River NWR

On my most recent trip to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, the only sandpipers I saw and photographed were sanderlings. The exception was this lone semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) mixed in with the flock, which gave me a few chances to diversify my photographs from the outing.

View more of my photographs of sandpipers.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sanderling preening at sunset, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sanderling preening at sunset in Parker River NWR
A sanderling pauses a moment to preen its feathers in the fading light of sunset on Plum Island

I really enjoy watching sandpipers preen. It's just an ordinary part of their existence, but it's a special moment to share with them. It's sometimes challenging to capture an effective photograph of those moments though, as their mid-preen poses often don't look that elegant in a still frame. If I lay on the shutter release long-enough, occasionally I come away with a rewarding pose -- one that has enough of the eye visible and the bird with reasonable posture. Even better when you get to see it all come together in nice light too!

Browse more of my photographs of sanderlings.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sanderling in the shallows at dusk, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sanderling wading through the shallows at dusk in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
A sanderling splashes water droplets as it feeds in the pastel colors of dusk in Parker River NWR

From my evening last weekend with a friendly flock of sanderlings in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. I spent over 45 minutes with this flock as they went through their evening routine of feeding, preening, and splashing through the calm waters of an ebbing tide at sunset.

Browse more photographs of sanderlings (Calidris alba).


Friday, October 31, 2014

Late evening sanderlings, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Late evening sanderlings in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
Sanderlings feed and preen in the final light of day at the Lot #6 Beach in Parker River NWR

On my first trip to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge after moving to Massachusetts a few years ago, I encountered a huge flock of shorebirds along the beach at Lot #6. Since that time, I've walked the boardwalk out to the beach a number of times without much success. The Lot #7 beach is my regular sandpiper hotspot, but last weekend it was quiet. As the light was turning for the best, I decided to take a chance and head for Lot #6. My gamble really paid off -- a flock of 40 or so sanderlings were hanging out right at the end of the boardwalk, and they stayed with me until it was too dark to keep shooting.

View more photographs of sanderlings.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Dunlin feeding in front of the waves, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Dunlin feeding in Massachusetts with shallow DOF
A dunlin probes the sand for a meal in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

It was mostly sanderlings feeding in front of the receding tide on my last trip to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, but this lone dunlin looked stately among the smaller sandpipers.

View more of my dunlin photography.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Sanderling searching for prey at sunset, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sanderling looking for a meal at sunset in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
A sanderling looks for a meal as the late light drops to the horizon in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

On the last weekend in September I finally made it out to the coast for a fall trip to look for shorebirds. The Sandy Point State Reservation and Lot 7 area of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge did not disappoint, as there were plenty of sandpipers around. I spent the early evening with a group of resting peeps in the dunes, then got thoroughly soaked while working with a flock of sandpipers in the exposed flats of the ebbing tide. Pleasantly, the temperatures were unseasonably warm, so it was actually quite refreshing to be soaked to the bone in the wet sand. Regardless, it's always worth a wet drive home when you have a chance to share space with some friendly shorebirds!

View more of my sanderling photography.