I love the beach! Listening to the waves, soaking up the warm sun, and watching the small shore birds run back and forth feeding in the receding waves. It always adds to the enjoyment when you have a comfortable beach chair and a cooler full of Corona's and some cut up limes!
Sanderling watching the tide, Ft. Myers Beach, FL.
Getting good quality photographs of these little guys is a bit of a challenge though. They seem to get pretty close , but when you really realize how small they are, you need a pretty good focal length to fill the frame.
Wilson's Plover, Sarasota Beach, FL.
A focal length of at least 300mm is needed, but 400-500mm would be better. Then getting down low to their level is really necessary to make some good photographs. So getting down low right at the tide line means you are probably going to get a little wet.
Willet missing on a grab for food, Estero Lagoon, Ft. Myers Beach, FL.
Some of the birds such as Plovers, Willets, Skimmers, Seagulls, Terns, and others are bigger and will fill the frame easier than the little Sanderlings, and Sand Pipers.
Ruddy Turnstone, Sanibel Island Beach, Sanibel, FL
These little guys run really fast so your shutter speed needs to be between 750-1000 of a second to freeze the action and get a sharp image. The good thing is the light at the beach is pretty bright, so there is usually no problem being able to shoot at a very high shutter speed.
Black Skimmers, Naples FL.
On the photo of the skimmers I went for more depth of field to keep them all fairly sharp. When shooting single birds I really like the effect of the shallow DOF that you can create shooting wide open with a fast lens.
Sanderling scratching an itch, Sanibel Island Beach, Sanibel, FL.
On my last trip to Florida, Canon Professional Services was kind enough to loan me an 800mm lens to try out. That made phtographing the little guys fairly easy. Just set my tripod up at ground level right at the tide line. I could fill the frame with a tiny Sanderling that was still 30 feet away and totally unaware of me.
There are a large and varied amount shore birds in just the USA alone, and I have only covered a few here. Guess I will just have to go back to the beach to keep photographing.