Pescadero State Beach (meaning "the place to fish" in Spanish) is located along the coastal Highway 1 in San Mateo County between Ano Nuevo State Park (elephant seal breeding grounds) and Half Moon Bay, CA. The beach is about a mile long with sandy coves, rocky cliffs, tide pools, and the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is just inland. My first stop was to the rocky parts of the beach and when I looked out I saw shorebirds on the rocks but there was something different: a Ruddy Turnstone. Although the field guides say they are common in the winter on both coasts, I haven't had that experience and have only seem them twice on the west coast. So, needless to say I was pleasantly surprised to find one on this day. I proceeded to walk down to the water and the rocks to get closer for better photos. I slowly approach hoping that they wouldn't fly off and I was able to get within 10m of not only the Ruddy but Black Turnstones and a few Surfbirds. The fog created soft lighting that really brought out the colors, but with it the challenges of shooting in low light. I like this photo, besides finding an uncommon bird, because the guy was puffed up to stay warm in the cold morning fog and in the background there is a very soft focused Black Turnstone staring at me.
I took my time shooting these birds because they were accommodating and as they moved around I was able to capture the Black and Ruddy in focus in the same shot. The photo below took patience and a bit of luck with both winding up in the same focal plane. The f/3.2 used was not wide open and f/5.6 or a little higher would have been preferable; however, with the low light and since I was hand holding the camera, I didn't want to shoot much lower than 1/640s so those are the choices you must make. What I like in the photo is the tension in the composition with both birds looking out of the frame: wonder what they are looking at.
There were 20 species along the beach including uncommon Black Scoters that were too far out to photograph and Black Oystercatchers to name a couple. After exploring the beach, I walked along the convergence of the Pescadero and Butano Creeks into and around the marsh. I first came across a Raven on a large drift wood tree and I was able to capture the guy talking flight. In the marsh there were 7 species of ducks, egrets, and even a kingfisher to name a few of the 27 species. This is a great place to photograph wildlife and with the ocean and marsh there is a wide variety of birds to capture. If you get out to the coast in this area it is worth the stop.
Your comments are welcomed and if you have any questions about the photo or any other questions leave me a message.