Time for one more trip down memory lane and a few more pics from my trip with CFO to Monterey Bay last September (click to read parts 1, 2, and 3.)
So how about some shorebirds? I think that living and birding in Colorado heightens my appreciation of these guys- we get shorebirding opportunities and our share of cool species, but nothing like coastal areas. Often, shorebirds in Colorado are seen at long distances across mudflats of drawn-down water storage reservoirs. While this hones one's skills at shorebird ID, it rarely provides photo opps beyond record shots or study pictures. The mix of good shorebird habitats around Monterey made for some outstanding birding when we weren't out on the boat looking at pelagics. And the birds were often very close- time for some camera work, and not just distant digiscoping! I know I'm in a good situation when I turn off the focus-range limiter on my DSLR lens to shoot within 6 meters, and this happened a lot in California.
Here's a bird that we see regularly in Colorado, but rarely this well- a Western Sandpiper. Kind of an uninspired name though- I'd have named it Flammulated Sandpiper for the fiery racing stripes on the scapulars:
Another bird we have in Colorado (they even breed in the state) are Willets. I've never seen one in breaking surf here, though!
This Semipalmated Plover eventually walked within the focus range of my lens. No biggie- I was happy by then:
The highlights for me, though were west-coast specialties. One such was Black Turnstone- I had seen them before in Washington State, but only had crappy pics of one flying away. The quality of my Black Turnstone photo library abruptly went up at Point Lobos and Point Pinos, where little groups of the accommodating birds posed for me:
My favorite, though, was a Black Oystercatcher at Point Lobos. First, it was a life bird for me. Second, it was a lifer photo bird. Finally, the thing let me sit on a wave-washed rock about 15 feet away while it pried up mollusks at low tide with the light pretty much perfect. Dang- might get my expectations up for every new lifer!! The combo of the orange bill and eye-ring along with the glowing yellow iris set against the dark plumage is stunning to say the least. And look at how stout those pink legs and feet are- gotta be able to hang on in battering waves, I guess.
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