Sunday, April 17, 2011

Transitional black-bellied plover, Pillar Point Harbor

Black-bellied plover - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

A black-bellied plover that is almost to its full breeding plumage. They are such stunning birds in their summer patterns, and it's a pleasure to get to see them transition into that phase along the California coast. It's pretty cool to think too, that earlier this spring, they looked like this. I was hoping for nice high overcast clouds yesterday evening at Pillar Point, but instead we got nearly ground level fog which left my images a little drab. But anytime you get to be close to shorebirds is worth it in my book, and I tried to make the most of the gray-scale scene. Not all of the birds were as dark as this one yet, so I hope to head back in a week or two to try for some nicer light!


  1. looks like a fudge brownie with marshallow creme and a drizzle of caramel sauce. :)

  2. Nice shot Pat as they're probably flighty like the Killdeers here.Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  3. Very nice Pat. Love the low angle and comparison to the same bird a few months back.

  4. Nice image Pat. Good composition and, as usual, good FG and BG.

  5. The narrow range of depth of field really makes it for me. This is something I really need to work on. Thanks for the inspiration I get from all your photos.

  6. Great capture, especially with the colors on the ground beneath her feet.

  7. What a transformation of color! Brilliant photo as usual,Pat, thumbs up!

  8. Thanks, texwisgirl! A great analogy -- and now I'm off to search for a sundae -- lol.

    Thanks, Gary! Unfortunately they are rather skittish here too, but I've now had two really great encounters with a black-bellied at this exact same location a month apart (although not with the bird in this shot). And I'm wondering if it was the same bird each time that was willing to come within a few feet of me. Otherwise, it was a lot of crawling through the mud to get to this handsome bird.

    Thanks, Alan! Their transformation is so dramatic from one season to the next!

    Thanks, Jim! Getting low (in this case sinking into the wet sediments) makes it a lot easier to get a clean BG.

    Thanks, Sinbad! Getting eye level with the shorebirds helps to create that narrow dof. By shooting parallel to your subject, you keep the plane of focus perpendicular to the ground, which helps to accentuate the narrow dof. If you shoot from standing height (or even crouched) you'll still be looking at your subject from an angle, which will include more of the background and foreground in focus.

    Thanks, Kristi! On a few occasioans at this location I've been fortunate to have some seaweed in the shots to add color to otherwise gray scenes.

    Thank you very much for your kind words, Amila!