Oystercatchers are coastal birds. Black Oystercatchers like this one I photographed on the Pacific Coast near Monterey last week, spend their time foraging on rocks for mollusks. The bright reddish orange beak and eye ring are quite distinctive and contrast sharply with the bird’s black feathers. They provide color to an otherwise muted scene. This Black Oystercatcher is very focused on something in front of it and is approaching whatever it is with great stealth.

Nikon D5, Nikkor 500mm PF, Nikon 1.4 Teleconverter. Handheld.

2019—On the Beach

We came prepared to do some “beach panning” in Monterey, toting our panning plates and Frisbees with us. That proved to be unnecessary when we found ourselves seated on the sand late one afternoon holding our cameras instead of laying prone with the cameras attached to the panning plates. It was much more comfortable to have my elbows resting on my knees, supporting my camera with long lens. We were entertained by several Black Turnstones, a lone Whimbrel and a lone Semi-palmated Plover, watching them wander up and down the beach in search of a late afternoon meal. The Semi-palmated Plover proved to be most cooperative as it scurried up and down the beach within sight of our lenses. This was the closest he came to me and there was no need for the teleconverter or High-speed crop. To photograph this tiny bird, I used the D5 and 500mm PF alone. We sat still on the sand and waited for the birds to come to us which they quickly did as we did not move or talk more than was necessary. That approach was just right so that the birds quickly adjusted to our presence and then ignored us.

2019—Surfin’ Bird

What a glorious week I just had in Monterey and Pacific Grove. The weather was perfectly gorgeous, just the right amount of sunshine and coastal fog. There were no crowds and views of the gorgeous Northern California coastline with its craggy rocks and crashing waves was spectacular. Harbor Seals basked in the sun on pristine beaches. Sea Lions crowded onto rock islands named for them. A Sea Otter or two floated languidly in the kelp beds, binding themselves to the massive kelp leaves while they slept. But I was there for birds, specifically, shore birds and we found them, including a few that are usually hard to find. I photographed several species I’d never seen before, despite having spent lots of time on Northern California beaches as a kid.

This is a Surfbird. We photographed this and other shore birds and gulls on Ocean View Boulevard in Pacific Grove, where the road follows the cliff line above the waves and there is lots of space to admire the views and the birds. Once I discovered this bird was called a Surfbird, I couldn’t get that 1960’s novelty hit, Surfin’ Bird out of my head: “A-well-a ev’rybody’s heard about the bird. B-b-b-bird, b-birdd’s a word. A-well, a bird, bird, bird, bird is a word.” Perhaps it will start to resonate in your mind, as well. Enjoy!

Nikon D5; Nikkor 500mm PF; Nikon 1.4 Teleconverter. Handheld. It is so nice to be able to get this kind of reach with a lens I can hold comfortably.