Portrait of a Turnstone


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The Black Turnstone is one of the sandpipers that winters along the entire Pacific Coastline of the United States and of parts south. You may have seen my fairly recent post of Turnstones bathing on the shores of Tomales Bay, which was a good introduction to this delightful bird. Today I am sharing more detailed, portrait style shots of the Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala), that folks may see some of the more subtle hidden colors in its feathers and the textures of its shape.

My modeling director was really spot on for the shot

The photographs of this two-toned sandpiper were taken one day while I was kayaking the waters of Drake’s Estero, a marvelous and relatively unknown inlet of the Pacific Ocean. I saw several turnstones probing and marching through the exposed rocks of low tide, and set my kayak so that the slight breeze and tide would drift me near them. I got lucky, as I drifted closer than planned, and was able to capture these very detailed portraits.

Almost always in motion it is tricky to capture these briefly paused birds. Fast shutter speeds are a must

If you would like to see the Black Turnstone in action, you can watch a brief experiment I did into video on another day while kayaking on Tomales Bay, as I shot Black Turnstones feeding.

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website- www.galenleeds.net
This entry was posted in birds, black turnstone, kayak photography, nature photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Portrait of a Turnstone

  1. Victor Ho says:

    Galen – you mention a fast shutter speed. And, mostly your shots are superb. But, have you considered getting the birds in flight? It’s a challenge to do so. I set up with autofocus on nearest subject. I use a Nikon and all the focus points are in play. It seems to work well with subjects in motion. I used this technique on Atlantic puffins as they landed. I tried this based on my experience shooting action sports in which the key element is to catch the critical moment of action. In nature, I view the challenge as shooting a bee in flight, a butterfly landing, or a hummingbird hoovering. Panning is also a good idea. I posted a gull in flight under Nyack. And, I’ll try to find the puffins. Just a thought. Great shots as usual.

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