Florida waders - Sanderling

May 13, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I finally have a little spare time to devote to these pages so I thought I would try and finish up my trip to Florida in November of 2015 - I'm only seven months behind. As a reminder, it was a short trip at just two and half days, but as good fortune would have it I got a lot of photography in as the weather was quite dull. When the sun came out, as it did on my final morning, photography was over by 9am whereas on the other days I could literally go all day. The trip was mostly about waders and herons, and this post is going to concentrate on Sanderling, one of my very favourites. They're actually one of the trickier birds to photograph as their feeding action is rapid and constant, chasing the waves and rarely if ever staying still. Another reason I like them is because in winter the birds are very monochromatic, and against a white sandy beach of the sort you get in Florida you can get an image which looks almost black and white. In fact I may have a go at processing them this was to see if anything can be drawn out, however for now here are some of the colour ones. As ever it is a shame that I have to publish them on this blog in so small a size - typically 1000 pixels wide or 850 pixels tall. The actual images much bigger than this of course, but all the detail is there and on my 24 inch monitors they look ever so much better.

I would definitely recommend Florida as a bird photography location, especially for a beginner or for somebody (like me!) who is stretched for time. Whilst I'd love to be somewhere like this for two weeks, the birds are so tame and plentiful that you can make many more images in the time you do have available as the opportunities are more or less constant. In the UK, especially the south of England where I live, you often have to wait a long time for a suitable opportunity to present itself and when it does it rarely lasts very long. Birds are also much more wary I find, but in Florida it's a dream. A beginner in the UK would easily get frustrated - indeed I frequently get frustrated and many is the time when I return home with nothing to show for my efforts - but on the Gulf Coast beaches you can walk right up to birds and they barely move. Anyway, highly recommended.


So do I have a favourite Sanderling image from the trip? Of course I do! One of my favourite poses to photograph is the 'over-the-shoulder' one, with a bird facing away yet twisting its head around to face the camera. Whilst this works best in my opinion on passerines, it can also work on waders too, and one image from the various sessions I had with these birds stood out for me for that reason. The bird is ticked up, beak buried in its feathers as it roosts on the sand, but birds rarely fully go to sleep and every so often it would open one eye to check out what was going on before settling back down. It was simply a question of waiting for the moment to coincide with an OK background (which kept changing due to the water). 





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