One of my favorite types of photography is what I call “beach panning.” I got another chance to do it on Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego Tuesday morning. The day started out foggy and cool, more like a June morning in Santa Rosa than a spring day in Southern California. And while there weren’t too many birds on the beach, we did see some I hadn’t seen before including Marbled Godwits and Surfbirds. What really caught my attention were the several Willets in breeding plumage. I’m used to seeing Willets in drab grayish winter feathers, not their more interesting breeding plumage.
The morning remained overcast and as the tide came in we perservered, laying prone on the wet sand while making sure to keep our hands and our camera gear, on their respective panning plates and Frisbees, sand free by getting up and down when necessary using only elbows and knees. At the end of the morning, it was still cool and overcast and our bodies were wet and covered with sticky wet sand. The beach had an outdoor rinsing station so we took turns washing the wet sticky sand off our elbows and forearms, our feet and legs, our shoes, our knees, and the fronts of our shirts. Some in our small group wore shorts or had zip off pant legs. I however, wore pants that had legs that rolled into capris. I had to unroll them to rinse the sand out of the cuffs so I was the only one whose pants were still dripping wet when we went to breakfast. During the couple of hours that we were shooting, I didn’t notice the coolness of the water or the air. And, I got some shots I love.
This is a Willet in breeding plumage plucking a tasty morsel out of the wet sand. Shot with Nikon D500 and Nikkor 500mm PF lens.