Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beachcombers

The 'new bird species radar' started in to whirred into life recently with reports coming in of two shore larks, together with seven snow bunting, at Point of Ayr in North Wales. I decided this sounded worth a visit as even if the larks could not be located there was the fall back position of the bunting. I always get strange feelings when driving to try and photograph a new species or attempting to photograph a rare bird. The feelings are usually one of doubt that I will not be able to find the birds, if will they be approachable or that they may have already departed, which fortunately is usually proved wrong.

I arrived at the beach in some low winter morning sun and started my search along the beach to find the birds not being in the area they had been reported from the previous two days and so extended the search further along the beach. The two birds were duly located and as with any new species I decided to observe them for a while to work out the best approach. The' snow bunting tactics' looked the best method from how the birds were behaving. This involves watching which way the birds are foraging along the beach, sitting very quietly at distance and waiting for them to pass. This often results in some very close encounters as it did this time.

Despite being predominately brown the shorelark is a very attractive bird.
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The birds were beach combing for seeds along the tideline debris which made getting them in a nice clean setting quite tricky.
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One of the birds shaking down, no doubt to get some of the sand out of the feathers. There is one thing you can guarantee about beach photography is that the sand will get on and in to everything.
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They would occasionally pause to have a good look around, a sensible precaution given the local peregrine hunting waders.
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I decided I would shift position and when the bird went away on one of their routine flying laps, positioned myself in a small gully opposite a sand and gravel ridge with the sea behind to try and get a different background. Interestingly the background was changing between brown and blue and white as waves hit the shore but the move was worthwhile as it produced my two favourite images of this brief session.
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Beautiful birds and one I am hoping to encounter next summer with a trip that is currently in planning.

7 comments:

Gary Jones said...

Rich, superb pictures of the Shore Larks, i was at Marshside yesterday and a guy was telling me about them, i would have been thrilled to see them but to get superb pictures as well,brilliant, well done.
gary

MObugs said...

Gorgeous images of a subtly beautiful bird. I especially like the last picture. The background sky and the sand complete with a feather makes a charming picture.

Petra said...

It's an interesting beach series, Richard. I like especially the last photo with the feather on the ground, together with the bird it makes the photo really special...

The Early Birder said...

Super bird and superbly captured Rich. This is one species I missed last week in Norfolk...took the decision to watch the geese flight instead. When I get round to posting I'll put a link to these pics. FAB.

Brian said...

Rich, Your fieldcraft and patience has paid dividends yet again. These are superb shots, and I've seen none better (or anywhere near to be honest) from the current crop of shorelarks around the UK. Out of interest I note the last post was with 7D - were these? I'd be interested to know what you have made of it. Brian

Peregrine's Bird Blog said...

Never seen one but the second from bottom image is fantastic. A big thumbs up!!

Rich Steel said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment. The shore larks were stunning little birds and a species I hope to catch up with again with a trip I have planned for the middle of next year.

Cheers

Rich

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