Black-Bellied Plovers

It’s been a very strange Spring here, and I somehow managed  to miss the peak of the Spring shorebird migration. Luckily, I’ve twice managed to get shots of migrating shorebirds before the big migration started.  I’ve already posted shots of Dunlins and others, but I was hoping to get a better shot of a Black-Bellied Plover in breeding plumage before posting any shots of them.  Unfortunately, my Monday trip was  totally washed out, despite a much more optimistic forecast.  Resigned to the fact that this 

is the best shot I’m going to get of a Black-Bellied Plover in almost full breeding colors this year, I’m going to focus, instead, on some shots I got of one in the midst of changing from winter plumage to breeding plumage.

I got these shots at Fort Flagler nearly a month ago.  I’m pretty sure this is one of the small flock of plovers that overwintered there.  It must have adjusted to the presence of people because I’ve never managed to get this close to a plover before (which probably explains why I try so hard to get a good shot of them).  

I must have photographed this bird nearly a half hour as it fed

and flew up and down the beach in front of me.

In the past I’ve always tried to focus on the striking black patch on their belly that gives them their name, so until I got these shots I’d never realized just how beautiful their wing pattern is. 

Dunlin

Spring Migration is the best time to observe many shorebirds like the Dunlin.  In large flocks  some are still in their winter plumage which seems to blend well with their habitat

while others are wearing flashier breeding plumage — which seems worth the risk when you’re trying to attract a mate.

Since they are in desperate need of food to fuel their migration, it’s easy to observe how they forage, and, occasionally, as in this shot, see the worms they are finding in the beach.

Most of all, though, it’s the best time to see just how colorful, how beautiful their breeding plumage really is.

If you can’t find happiness in the midst of such beauty, you’re probably not going to find it anywhere. 

Pigeon Guillemots

I don’t go to Port Townsend to see Pigeon Guillemots, but I usually look for them while I’m there. On this trip, though, I started my day by walking out on the dock to see if I could find a Loon and ended up getting this shot of one who obviously thought I was way too close.

It reminded me of the shot I I took the day before of the Pelagic Cormorant. It’s amazing the amount of water those feet displace.

Strangely enough, I ended my day with several shots of Pigeon  Guillemots at Fort Worden. Apparently, this flock of Guillemots are much more used to people and just looked back casually at the people looking down from the pier.

This pair seemed far too busy flirting to even notice that there were people around.

Though one of the surest signs that a bird is a Pigeon Guillemot is the bright orange legs, this is the first time I’ve ever notice the brilliant orange inside of their beak.

Such Subtle Beauty

I’ve taken a lot of shots that included Sanderlings, but almost invariably the shots were taken during Spring or Fall migration where they tend to be overshadowed by more spectacular shorebirds. On my recent trips to Fort Flagler, though, there have been several  times when I’ve had a chance to take pictures of them where there aren’t any other birds to grab my attention, and I’ve begun to see a special beauty in their subtle winter plumage.

but most seem to wander off to  feed by themselves, 

making them good photo subjects. 

Here at the edge

sky and water come 

together, One.