Showing posts with label wildlife photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wildlife photography. Show all posts

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Pied-billed grebes in the marsh, Coyote Hills Regional Park

Pair of pied-billed grebes in the open water of a marsh

I believe this 2011 trip to Coyote Hills Regional Park is the only opportunity I've had to photograph pied-billed grebes. As I recall, I encountered them while crossing a boardwalk over the open water in the marsh. Thankfully the water management had the marsh at its high water mark, so it was possible to get reasonably close to eye-level when I went prone on the platform. I enjoyed the chance to spend a few brief moments with this adorable pair before they slipped back into the vegetation.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Black phoebe on cattails, Coyote Hills Regional Park

Black phoebe on cattails in Coyote Hills Regional Park on San Francisco Bay

From the same lost trip in the archives as my previous post, here's a black phoebe perched on cattails in Coyote Hills Regional Park in California. It's hard to beat a morning spent in a wetland, but I had an impression that there was nothing to show from this particular trip to the South Bay and had often overlooked this folder. This past summer I was digging around a little bit in my archives and came across a few keepers buried in the wrack. A heavy evening fog had settled over the bay, casting a nice even light over the marsh.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Female red-winged blackbird on cattails, Coyote Hills Regional Park

Female red-winged blackbird on cattails in California

I'm fortunate to have a handful of lovely cattail marshes along my daily commute, and its been wonderful to see them surrounded by beautiful autumn foliage recently. I haven't had an opportunity to attempt to capture their beauty, but it's made me think of the many times I went out looking for birds in the wetlands around San Francisco Bay when I lived in California. This particular trip to Coyote Hills Regional park was largely ignored on my hard drive, so it's nice to pull a few images out. Here's a lovely female red-winged black bird perched on some early spring cattails in the freshwater marsh.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Sanderling dance moves, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Wildlife Photography by Pat Ulrich: Sanderlings &emdash; Sanderling dance moves

A cool thing about photography is how it can capture a single moment and give it meaning beyond what you may have noticed in real time. Here, a simple change in the direction this sanderling was running added a lot of life ot the frame -- giving the illusion of a sanderling dancing across the beach.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Semipalmated sandpiper with prey, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

A semipalmated sandpiper pulls prey from the sand in Massachusetts

It was fun to watch this small flock of semipalmated sandpipers rapidly work over the wet sand left behind by the receding tide along the Lot 6 beach in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. The pace they were moving up the beach suggested that there wasn't much left to feed on, but this sandpiper found what appears to be a small worm, which was quickly swallowed.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Seeking shelter on the tidal flats, Piping plovers at Sandy Point

A piping plover looks to brood under his father's wing in Massachusetts

I had a lot of fun watching this family of piping plovers on my first trip to Sandy Point State Reservation for the summer breeding season. I initially encountered them along the dunes, but eventually some of the chicks decided to explore the expansive tidal flats of a very low tide. The patterns in the sand left behind by the receding water made for a unique setting to photograph them as they sought refuge under their father's wing.

Piping plover shelters two chicks under his wing on the tidal flats


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Least tern chick receives a fish, Sandy Point State Reservation

Least tern chick sees parent returning with a fish

On my mid-summer trips to see the breeding birds at Sandy Point State Reservation, I was almost always focused on the piping plovers running around the beach. There is a colony of least terns there as well, and when a family chose to stay near the ropes, a large crowd of photographers tended to form near them each time I visited. I spent the first light of one trip focused on terns, and it was easy to see why there is a such a draw to them. Unlike the piping plovers, which are in constant motion and responsible for feeding themselves, the terns are much more stationary and you have a chance to witness the tender moments of a parent bringing prey back to the little ones.

Least tern chick being fed a fish by its parent

For a while, the chick was snuggled with its other parent on the sand. At some point it must have heard the call of this parent returning, because it leapt to its feet and started running around excitedly. Then its parent flew into the frame and handed off a rather large fish. Unfortunately, I was zoomed in a bit too tight and clipped the tips of the wings, but it was a great moment to witness!

Least tern chick takes a fish from its parent


Shared with this week's Wild Bird Wednesday


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Piping plover chick in the spotlight, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover chick illuminated by sunrise light at Sandy Point State Reservation

Warm sunrise light with just enough high clouds in the sky came together to illuminate this young piping plover chick while it was exploring the beach at Sandy Point State Reservation.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Piping plover family in the rain, Sandy Point State Reservation

Piping plover parent with three chicks on a rainy day

The dreary last few days in the Boston area reminds me of my first trip this summer to see the piping plover chicks at Sandy Point State Reservation. There were dull-gray skies with off and on drizzle, but it was great to spend some time watching this piping plover family. In this frame, two chicks are already under their parent, and it's pretty clear the third wants to get out of the rain as well.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Sanderling at the edge of the flock, Parker River NWR

A pair of sanderlings feeding at the front edge of their flock in Parker River NWR

Getting an isolated image of a single sandpiper at the edge of the flock is always a rewarding experience and makes for a nice clean shot. But it's also a fun challenge to try to aim into the center of the frenetic sandpiper activity and come away with a pleasing composition. I certainly had to dump a fair number of images due to birds cruising in and out of the frame, but occasionally the pieces come together and it's possible to get a strong foreground subject with interesting depth provided by the flock.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Northern harrier on the prowl, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Female northern harrier in flight over a salt marsh in Massachusetts

This lovely northern harrier caught my eye as it danced above the salt marsh near the entrance to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. After a successful morning with sandpipers, I wasn't necessarily looking for serious photographic opportunities, but its near-range acrobatics were worth pulling the car over for. I didn't have my binoculars along, so I used my telephoto to watch her flight. I fired off a few shots when she turned to face my direction, and this one came out surprisingly sharp. She steadily worked her way past my location, and when she was quite a way behind me, I saw her take a dive into the marsh. She didn't pop back up immediately, so I hope she came away with a meal.


Saturday, October 5, 2019

Preening sandpipers, Sandy Point State Reservation

Photograph of two semipalmated sandpipers, with one sleeping and one preening

One of the pleasures of watching wildlife is when they are totally indifferent to your presence. After slowly approaching a large flock of sandpipers resting on the beach, the shorebirds simply went about their morning business. This pair of semipalmated sandpipers was near the front of the group, with one napping while the other preened its feathers.


Friday, October 4, 2019

Sanderling and reflection, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

A sanderling is reflected in wet sand while feeding in Massachusetts

I took a long walk on the beach before finally reaching a mid-sized flock of sanderlings feeding in front of the rising tide. The group was fast-moving and active, so it was a bit of a challenge to get clean shots. I spent some time pointing my lens right into the heart of the action, but I also attempted to isolate a few birds when they stepped to the edges of the main group.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Sanderlings feeding ahead of the waves, Parker River NWR

Two sanderlings feeding ahead of a small wave in Massachusetts

A classic sandpiper pose -- break probing the sand with a shallow wave chasing them from behind. I love the rhythm of these birds and the waves as they feed, melodically cruising back and forth. It was particularly helpful on this morning along the Lot 6 beach in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge as well. With the autumn sun rising due east, I had to turn sideways to the gently breaking waves to have any shot at reasonable light on the birds. This meant that I occasionally got splashed, but when the birds really started running, it was a helpful sign that I needed to elevate my camera off the sand a few moments later. Fun times!


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Roosting semipalmated sandpiper, Sandy Point State Reservation

Resting semipalmated sandpiper on the beach

High tide was right around sunrise on this September morning, and after following a small flock of sanderlings feeding along the beach at first light, I decided to walk to the tip of Sandy Point State Reservation. With so much of the tidal flats submerged below the tide, I figured there was a reasonable chance the shorebirds would be roosting somewhere on the beach. Sure enough, I didn't get too far down the beach before spotting the first group of semipalmated plovers at the edge of a larger flock of mixed shorebirds. I slowly belly-crawled my way into their presence and enjoyed watching the flock rest and preen, including this semipalmated sandpiper.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Sanderling at sunrise, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Sanderling pausing at sunrise in Parker River NWR

There was a chill in the air for this September sunrise on Plum Island, an early sign that fall is on the way. The flock of sanderlings I was watching along the Lot 7 beach was busy looking for breakfast before the rising tide covered the beach. In the brief moments when a bird would stop amidst the action, the feathers would puff out just a bit against the cool morning air -- giving this one a nice plump shape.


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Sanderling silhouette at sunrise, Parker River NWR

Sanderling silhouette against the waves in Parker River NWR

On my most recent trip to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge I was predominantly focused on capturing some dramatic side-lighting on some sanderlings when they ventured away from the waves and up the beach to where I was positioned. But still, I couldn't help but try at least a few times to turn my lens toward the water and the rising sun. Most of the frames I came home with didn't catch my eye, but these two stood out with the interesting circular patterns in the bokeh.

Silhouette of a sanderling feeding at sunrise in Parker River NWR


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Dramatic sunrise light, Sanderling at Parker River NWR

Sanderling with dramatic side-lighting at sunrise

An early morning trip to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge paid off immediately as I encountered a moderately-sized flock of sanderlings as soon as I crossed the trail through the dunes from the Lot 7 parking lot. Sunrise is my favorite time of day, especially for photography, but it does provide some challenges when trying to capture sandpipers chasing the waves on the main beach of the refuge. Sunrise is great during the summer breeding season at Sandy Point State Reservation as I'm generally aiming toward the beach with the rising sun at my back. But working with this flock of sanderlings that was focused on finding food in the moments between breaking waves offered a much different take on early morning light. Knowing that I couldn't get full portraits in warm light with the birds keeping close the water, I tried to work a more dramatic look of warm side-lighting contrasting against cool morning shadows.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Leaning in, Semipalmated sandpiper at Parker River NWR

Striding semipalmated sandpiper at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts

I read an article recently about photographing wildlife at local parks. It included a thought that resonated with me about looking for a dynamic behavioral moment that can make even a common animal seem more interesting. I tend to find sandpipers fascinating regardless of what they are doing, but as this semipalmated sandpiper slightly changed directions and shifted its weight to the right, its lean added a bit of extra interest to this frame.


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Striding dunlin, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Dunlin pauses mid-stride while walking on the beach in Massachusetts

This dunlin stood out in a group of mostly sanderlings on a fall visit to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge a few years ago. This was one of the first trips where I was experimenting with taking my camera off of a ground-level tripod to get an even lower perspective. The difference of only a few inches of vertical (from the top of a ballhead to the lens footplate resting on the ground) made a noticeable difference in my images, and I've never gone back.