Sanderlings resting on a beach

Sanderlings are common migrants and wintering birds in Massachusetts, where they inhabit coastal beaches and intertidal areas, ranging from mudflats to sandy beaches. They are commonly seen running along the shoreline between waves to feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and other marine invertebrates. In April, many migratory shorebirds like Sanderlings, Sandpipers, and Dunlins stop on Massachusetts beaches on their way to the breeding grounds far north in the Arctic.

On this morning, I spent almost an hour with a flock of sanderlings (with a few dunlins mixed in) chasing the waves, feeding, and bathing. It was a cold morning, and the wind picked up a little as the sun rose in the sky. I watched this flock huddle together on a sandbar to protect themselves from the wind and rest after a very busy morning chasing waves.

Why this photo works

The early morning light was magical, so I tried to photograph this scene front-lit with the sun behind me. Since all the birds were close together, the details on those birds were very distracting. I decided to walk around the flock and shoot into the light, thus creating less distracting outlines of the flock. This backlit scene also adds a little bit of mystery to the image.

I got extremely low, almost resting my camera and 600mm lens coupled with a 1.4x teleconverter on the sand. This low angle created a pleasingly blurred foreground and golden bokeh balls caused by the light falling on the wet sand.

Technical Details

 APRIL 10, 2022 @ 6:45 AM

Using Format