Showing posts with label dunlin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dunlin. Show all posts

Monday, May 4, 2015

Quiet evening along the coast, Plymouth Beach

Sleeping dunlin at sunset on Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts

I finally went out looking for shorebirds for the first time near home this year with a trip to Plymouth Beach last night. I saw on eBird that there were recent sightings of hundreds of dunlin there within the last week, which matched my experience last spring. Unfortunately, the shorebirds were no where to be found on my walk to the tip of the peninsula and back. Oh well though, the light was nice and the walk was pleasant -- and it just felt great to be outside breathing in the coastal air again.

The shot above is from a trip to Plymouth Beach that I took at the start of May 2014. It was another outing where I didn't see a ton on my walk out, but as the sun was dropping close to the horizon I met a small flock of dunlin that were preening and resting in the fading light.

View more of my dunlin photography.


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, September 19, 2014

Dunlin preening at sunset, Plymouth Beach

Dunlin preening at sunset on Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts
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.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dunlin on the run, Plymouth Beach

Dunlin running across the beach in front of a breaking wave at Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts
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.

View more of my photographs of dunlin.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dunlin catches a worm, Plymouth Beach

Dunlin catches a worm along Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts
A dunlin prepares to eat a worm it just pulled from the sand along Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts

On a late spring trip to Plymouth Beach, I had the good fortune of watching a flock of dunlin feeding in front of the rising tide. While I've previously photographed dunlin catching clams on Plum Island, it was a new experience to see this one pull out a worm from the exposed sediments.

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Submitted to Wild Bird Wednesday - follow the link for this weeks posts!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dunlin in the dunes, Sandy Point State Reservation

Dunlin in the dunes by Pat Ulrich

A dunlin peers out from a depression in the sand behind the dunes at Sandy Point State Reservation on Plum Island, Massachusetts.

View more of my dunlin photographs.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Has it really been a year? Dunlin at Plymouth Beach

Wildlife Photography by Pat Ulrich: Resting dunlin on Plymouth Beach

Well today marks an entire year since I last posted a new image here on my blog. That's far too long! While I haven't had as much time over the past twelve months to put into photography, I'm starting to get back into a groove. A trip to Hawaii last summer and some recent trips to local beaches have provided a bunch of images to share, and I still have plenty of unpublished images sitting in my archives just waiting for their turn.

This image of resting dunlin is from Plymouth Beach, which is my new favorite spot to look for shorebirds. It was exciting to see them starting to molt into their summer colors when I was out earlier this weekend.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dinner for a dunlin, Parker River NWR

A dunlin pulls a small clam from the sand at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

A dunlin pulls a small clam from the sand and washes it off before swallowing it whole for dinner. An extremely low tide at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge last fall exposed a large area of feeding grounds for the shorebirds, and there seemed to be a never ending supply of these clams to eat. The density of prey species in the sand is amazing when you consider how frequently shorebirds pull them up, and how often the birds scour the area.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Strolling dunlin, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Dunlin strolling across the tidal flats at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Throughout the fall there were a lot of migrating shorebirds feeding on the beaches of Plum Island, and I was surprised to see that some were still there when I went looking for a snowy owl last Thursday. It was not a huge flock, but maybe 50-75 sanderlings and dunlin were still chasing the waves as they rolled in and out on that cold afternoon. Unfortunately, the light was blah when I saw them, so I just watched them for a bit with the camera at my side.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dunlin in a crowd, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Dunlin resting on one leg in front of a flock of sandpipers

A pair of dunlin (Calidris alpina) rest at the front edge of a very large flock of mixed sandpipers. This image is from a morning that I spent with this flock as they tried to stay just above the waterline of the rising tide during my first sunrise trip to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge this fall. The squatty shape of sandpipers, especially when they are tucked in to rest, doesn't always lend itself to an interesting vertical composition. In this case though, I thought that the background of the large flock fading into the bright blue of the early morning ocean was compelling. It's so easy to view the world through only one orientation, especially since the camera is layed-out to be most comfortable that way, so I always try to remember to rotate the lens to vertical as I work over a scene.

View more of my photos of dunlin

Submitted to World Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to check out this week's posts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dunlin Devours Prey, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Dunlin pulling a clam from the sand

A dunlin in winter plumage pulls a clam from the sand at low tide and swallows it whole. This image is from a nice trip I took to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island last month. I was there for the sunset, and watched a good-sized flock of sanderlings, dunlin, and plovers feeding during the very low tide. For my shots that evening, I picked a spot in the sand near where the flock was feeding, and in front of the general direction they were headed. I put the sun to my back, placed my tripod flat on the ground, made myself look as small as possible, and started to wait. Soon enough the entire flock had circled around me, and I was able to watch them feed up close. A few dunlin eventually came so close that I couldn't even keep focus on them (and my lens has an 8.5' MFD!). I always enjoy these intimate encounters with shorebirds, and it makes the drive home with wet clothes all the more worth it.

Dunlin swallowing a small clam whole

View more of my photos of dunlin.

This post submitted to World Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to check out this weeks posts!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Feeding dunlin, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Photograph of a dunlin about to eat a clam at Parker River NWR

The seventh beach at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island came through for me again on Tuesday when I went out looking for shorebirds in the late afternoon. The weather was absolutely beautiful, which meant that there were many more people on the beach 2 hours before sunset than I had seen on my sunrise trips, but the birds didn't seem too perturbed by the small crowd. As the sun crept closer to the horizon, the beach started to empty out and it was mostly birders and other photographers wandering across the exposed sediments of low tide. It was a nice change of pace on this trip to have a flock of mostly dunlin and black-bellied plovers to photograph, instead of the sanderlings like on my previous trip.

View more photographs of dunlin and other sandpipers in my Sandpipers Gallery.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dunlin and shadow, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Photograph of a dunlin and its shadow on the beach in Massachusetts

A dunlin stands alone with its shadow away from the rest of the flock at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island. Finding pleasing compositions within a flock of birds can be challenging, and sometimes the most dramatic are when you can find an isolated subject set against an out of focus flock. I like how this bird gave itself some separation from the rest, and especially since it seems like its only company was its shadow.

View more of my photos of dunlin.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Flock of sandpipers, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sandpipers in flight - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a wonderful first two days of wildlife photography in Massachusetts last week. This lovely flock of sandpipers (mostly sanderlings and dunlin) were very friendly, and accepted me right into their flock. A handful of times while I was lying in the sand with them, something would spook the birds, and the whole flock would take off in a delightful show of calculated chaos!

Tight flight formation of sandpipers

They would then circle around and land back on the beach. On more than one occasion the flock landed on three sides of me, leaving me quite literally in the middle (too much fun!). Better yet, since a bunch of them landed between me and the ocean, I didn't have to be as careful about keeping an eye out for waves that would get me wet, since every time the water started coming towards me, I would hear a loud uprising of irritated peeping coming from the sandpiper crew to my right.

Flock of sandpipers flying together

The four images in this post are all from one take-off and landing event as they circled around me, and are in the order that I took them. I always find it amazing to witness the movement of flocking birds, and it's so fascinating to see how closely they fly together without bumping one another. I also love to see the patterns that form as they rapidly change directions, and especially when the early light is still glistening off of their feathers.

Flock of sandpipers in flight

View more photos of these adorable shorebirds in my Sandpipers Gallery.

This post was submitted to World Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to check out this week's posts!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Home sweet home, and my first visit to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Shorebird welcoming committee - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography
(My Massachusetts shorebird welcoming committee.)

After a month of living in the great state of Massachusetts, I finally had a chance to get outside with my camera. Between the move, getting settled in a new city, my job search, and the death of my step-father, there had been little time to get out and experience my new home. Finally though, I had my first photography trips on Thursday and Friday mornings of last week -- to a fantastic coastal property in Northern MA, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

The forecast said clouds for Thursday, and since I have seen some amazing clouds out of my apartment window almost every day since moving to the Boston area, I had high hopes for beach photography under a pretty sky. Unfortunately, my first morning in the park was much more reminiscent of a day back in the Bay Area! There was ground level fog and drizzle all morning, which finally burned off to clear blue skies around noon. So while I still filled a memory card with heavily overcast shorebirds, it was not quite what I had envisioned while planning my inaugural trip to photograph the wildlife along the Atlantic coast. Thus, I decided to return for sunrise on Friday morning, since there was a forecast of clear skies -- and I was not disappointed.

Birders on a dreary morning
(Some birders enjoy the large shorebird flock on a wet Thursday morning.)

During my early morning drive along the highways to get there, I had wondered if I made the right decision to get up so early -- but once I made it to the Refuge and hopped out of my car into the cool, pre-dawn air, there was no doubt in my mind this was the right thing to do. I stopped at parking lot #1, and watched the sunrise break the horizon. There is just something so magical about this part of the day, and it's so energizing to feel the glow of those first rays of the sun. Although I must say, after 6 years of watching the sun set over the ocean, it was a bit odd to see it rise above the blue waters!

First sunrise in Massachusetts - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography
(My first sunrise viewed in my new home state.)

I then drove down to the southern end of the refuge, and headed for the beach at parking lot #7, which is where I saw the large flock of peeps the day before. Much to my delight, the flock was still there, and it was comprised of some very friendly shorebirds -- the best Massachusetts welcoming party I could have imagined. I then spent the next two hours or so laying in the sand with these birds. They went about their morning business of resting and preening, and after easily winning their trust I found myself as an honorary member of the flock. In fact, on more than one occassion, after they all took flight and circled around, they landed just a few feet away on all three sides of me. It was a perfect morning, and a great way to start my new adventures with wildlife photography in New England!

Shorebird flock at sunrise - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography
(The shorebird flock at sunrise.)

In other news, the list of highly honored images for the prestigious 2011 Windland Smith Rice International Awards was released this week, and I am happy to announce that one of my photographs was selected for this honor. Look for it in print in the next issue of Nature's Best Photography magazine!

View more photos of peeps in my Sandpipers Gallery.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shorebirds on the beach, Point Reyes National Seashore

Resting Dunlin - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

It's been a while since I posted some shorebirds to the blog, and I was getting that itch. Since most of them are up north on the tundra to breed right now, I've dug into the archive from last November to find a few to put up. These are from a terrific morning that I spent with a very large flock of western sandpipers, sanderlings, and dunlin on Limantour Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. I liked how the dunlin stood taller than the other birds in this flock, and I took many different compositions with dulin having a head above the crowd.

Dunlin and sandpipers

View more in my Sandpipers Gallery.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Resting shorebirds, Point Reyes National Seashore

Resting shorebirds, Point Reyes National Seashore - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

A small formation of dunlin and a solo western sandpiper relax on the beach at Limantour Spit in Point Reyes National Seashore. This is another frame from my encounter with this large flock of peeps that I saw there back in November. You can see a line of sanderlings out of focus in the backdrop as well. I also think its interesting in shots like these when you can so clearly see the width of the focal plane. If you look in the sand you can see the focus fade in and out, and its width must only be an inch or two (this is f/11 at 400mm).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Preening Dunlin

I always enjoy photographing preening shorebirds. One reason is that its a good sign that the birds are comfortable with my presence, since they wouldn't risk taking their eyes off me if they weren't. I never want to add extra stress to the birds that I'm watching, which means approaching really slowly while crawling in the sand, as well as leaving in exactly the same way when I'm done. And since the birds are ok with me being around them, I can get images of their normal behavior. Its wonderful to have a window into their lives.
Preening Dunlin

I also like preening shots since you can get more definition in each individual feather when they have them fluffed out a bit. Its easy to see a bird's plumage as the overall pattern. But when they are cleaning the feathers, you can see the shape and detail in each one, and how they all fit together.
Preening Dunlin 3

Here's a third frame that's pretty similar to the first, but there's a little better light on this angle of its face, and the little western sandpiper has an eye on the scene.
Preening Dunlin 2

Friday, December 17, 2010

One-legged sentinel

Dunlin Sentinel

A dunlin on the outer edge of a large flock, keeping an eye on the approaching photographer. It's interesting how dynamic these group scenes are. The birds were very interested in preening and napping, but the turnover of who was on the outside of the group was pretty high, with other birds constantly moving into the flock and being replaced by others.

Thank you!

Thank you!

A sincere and heartfelt thanks to my "flock" of supporters who took the time to vote for my image in the 2010 National Geographic Viewer's Choice contest. The vote was supposed to close on December 15 (although the voting page appears to still be live, so I'm not sure when exactly its officially done). In the three days from when I first found out about the vote until now, over 550 new votes were tallied for my image. That is so awesome, and I can't thank you all enough!

It's such an honor just to have been selected as one of the weekly choices from the contest submission period, and I still can't quite believe that I have an image on the NG site! I'm humbled and giddily excited! I'll be sure to post a link to the results once they announce the winners -- and if I happen to be among them, that would be incredible. But even in the likely event that I'm not, the quality of images in this contest is amazing and looking through the winners will surely be fun!

So again, thank you all so very, very much!


This shot is of the large flock of western sandpipers, sanderlings, and dunlin I saw cruising the shoreline at Limantour Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. They seemed to really want to find a place to rest, but you know how shorebirds are -- when one bird gets antsy and takes off, they all go!