Monday, September 21, 2009

Migrating Peeps

I had a great time shooting Portland Head Light and Cape Elizabeth light. On a little beach, there were some sea vegetables washed up by an earlier storm. This is a boon for migrating shore birds because the washed up seaweed holds sea lice, invertebrates, attract flies and all kinds of high protein goodies that fatten up our little friends.

I had a condition like this happen a year ago on Eastern Point and I have gone back several times month to try and find the same conditions without success.

When it does happen, what I like to do is find a rock to sit on and just chill out for a while watch the flock. I’ll snap some pictures towards them, point my camera a other things and just let them know that I’m cool. I don’t try to be “real still” or “blend in” or anything like that. I don’t wear camouflage, hide in blinds or set up blinds. No, I’m out there sticking out like a sore thumb.

Sooner or later, they will settle down and they will approach me at their comfort level, usually at about 10 feet at the minimum, although when I was in my 20’s, I had three Black Turnstones walk up to within six inches of my feet while I was sitting on a rock on a jetty.

This is when I get into the “Zone”. Those of you who are wildlife photographers know what I’m talking about. This is when your co-workers think you’re nuts, your lodge buddies are wondering why they didn't black-ball you and your spouce starts calling the layer. Yes folks, this is the photographer’s “Zone”. Just me and the peeps. Don’t bother me. Don’t hold dinner and no, I’m not answering that text message. I’m in the “Zone”.

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Least Sandpiper walking towards me.

This Least Sandpiper settledown to do a little digesting about 15 feet away. This was the end of the shoot. Whoo-hoo, what a thrill!

After 15 minutes, I had the shots I wanted and as fascinated as I was, these guys need to put on fat and get through the migration. The fact that they will not come closer than 10 feet means that I'm still an intrusion.

So I went back to the car and took a few more shots of the lighthouse and headed back to home.

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madcobug said...

Great shots, Pretty birds. Glad they found some food on their trip wherever they are going. Helen

Richard said...

Glad you got in the zone...great pictures.

Janie said...

Amazing bird photos. you are so good at capturing all the detail.

Larry Jordan said...

Steve, your description of "the zone" is perfect. I really appreciate your attitude on bird photography. You become part of the the bird's environment and they recognize you as a non-threat. You can tell by your photos that they are comfortable with you.

All fantastic captures, my favorite being the Semipalmated Plover peeps. And the Least Sandpiper coming at you is priceless. What a great time at the beach!

mick said...

I like your description of how you let the birds get close to you rather than the other way round. I do something similar from my kayak with the wind and tide to help me drift where I want to be. Great photos of the migrating shorebirds. Those I would really like to see! We get a lot of shorebird migrants here in Eastern Australia but not those ones, unfortunately!

Frank said...

I think these little guys are so friggin cute. Do you think if I throw some seaweed out they would hang out at my house...LOL

Kerri said...

Amazing shots! That Plover has such a sweet face!!!

Chris said...

Hi Steve,
I love your piper shots, the low angle catch is wonderful! I guess we are now loosing them here, they are all going to you, even the golden plover ;-(
Take care of them!

Andy said...

In the zone if I can only do that in traffic...ha! :)

Great shots!

Marysia said...

Its's a very good description and the pictures are very beautiful.

Bob and Cynthia Kaufman said...

Outstanding shots!

Anonymous said...

Great photos!

I know what you mean about the Zone - it's a very zen feeling, to just be part of nature and let it come to you rather than actively search for it. I see some of the best birds that way.

kate said...

Those semi plovers are beautiful, they look this year's chicks. that's a good sign, as all these guys are declining in the wild, especially sanderlings, I hope you get to see some of those this fall.

These birds look nice and fat though, another good sign so they make it to South America in one piece! I have a special place in my heart for these guys since I've cared for rehab peeps for the last ten years. It's nice to see them so appreciated by others! Great shots, thanks for posting them! -kate

Eve said...

Well Steve...I was going to say I don't know how you do it...but I do because you've shown us!!

In the "zone"!! hahahaha!

A New England Life said...

I wanna get into the zone! It sounds like a great place to be. Now, when can I schedule my zone time??? LOL!

You have such a calm nature Steve, I'm sure the birds can sense it.

Cindy said...

I love your capture of the sandpiper's feathers, they are just beautiful!

Petra said...

Absolutely delightful! I'm in awe of your photography skills. My favorite is the little plover third pic down... the sharpness of the bird against the blurred tangle of seaweed is marvelous. I love the colors in the seaweed too. Such sweet birds.

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