If it was any indication four years ago when I penned this article as one of my first forays into the world of typing with a purpose, man I really love these tiny brown and white long-distance travellers called shorebirds. For sure. And we all know that identifying these little guys can get pretty tricky at times. Why then would I choose to take a critical element out of the identification process?
How in the world is anyone going to look at the bird pictured above and notice the two-toned bill, that starts grey and ends up being all black? Sure enough, the image itself seems to lean in that direction, but what if the base of the bill was pink? How would we know? Well, none of the images featured here are going to be used for any sort of scientific publication that will require viewers to make an instant connection between what they see and a particular species. Sure enough those legs don’t seem the slightest bit yellow, but it is indeed a Greater Yellowlegs.
I observed a few of these shorebirds at various locations around Trinidad last year, and the dreary conditions didn’t really lend to vibrant colour anyway. Making black and white images has long been a fancy of mine – in many cases the absence of colour encourages the mind to focus on other aspects of the image. Such as composition, texture, even expression and countenance of the subject.
This bird is the same bird that was previously dry (see earlier). After a few minutes bathing in this puddle (several birds were taking turns, but this fella monopolized the pool as the others were all smaller) it seemed satisfied, almost content with its decision to have a shower during the rain. I mean, I love taking a dip when it’s pouring rain so I could understand.
Getting in position to have a sound composition is key in any image, but especially so in monochrome. No bright reds or blues to distract the eye! Lining up these two plovers was easy as they were both content to remain where they were while I shifted my perspective. The thick bill and strong stature of the Wilson’s Plover in the foreground contrasts with the smaller and daintier Semipalmated Plover in the background.
Having multiple images of different (albeit very similar) species in monochrome can get pretty interesting. Enjoy differentiating these two!
The incomplete collar of the Semipalmated Sandpiper (above) stands out against the complete collar of the smaller Least Sandpiper (below)
And even though this bird also has a complete collar, it’s much larger than the Semipalmated Sandpiper – and an extreme long distance migrant, flying almost pole to pole each year! White-rumped Sandpipers are one of my favourite shorebird species, and I was thrilled that this particular bird came so ridiculously close to me that I couldn’t fit it all into my frame. Wet facial feathers betray its actions.
Disclaimer: I fully understand that shorebirds aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, nor is black and white photography. Putting the two together is likely to drive some of my viewers nuts, and for that I most sincerely apologize. I will splash around some colour in my subsequent posts, promise.