Silver Strand State Beach
July 30, 2011

Yes! I finally ended the streak of picture-less days. Today I went out to Silver Strand State Beach, just south of Coronado Island. Alike other recent locations, sea birds populate this beach in heavy numbers. A long bike path runs from Imperial Beach to Coronado Island through this beach and thus a nice asphalt-paved path was available on which to "hike."

This beach is special simply due to the close proximity of the birds. Although the roosts are hidden away in grass or in the marsh's sandbanks, birds actively foraging for food cross over the bike path to get from the ocean to the marsh. Black skimmers and terns (including a few gull-billed, Forster's and elegant terns) fished just offshore from the salty banks. Further south the bike path curved east and separated two portions of the salt marsh. On the static side of this divide fluttered little shorebirds. The closest ones to me included small phalaropes and slightly larger avocets as they poked around the shallow water in search of tidbits. The following picture is of a juvenile dunlin (at least I believe it to be one) as it runs through a cloud of flies. I do not believe it is a food source, but perhaps a form of entertainment.

All was not perfect, however, as the environment was slightly taxing on the photographs. Firstly, the sun and cloud combination yielded an unusual glare that reflected brightly from the water. Simultaneously, the sunshine heated the landscape causing thick heat waves to rise from the ground. To compound this visually unappealing effect, the wind was gusting strongly picking up the fine sand and dust and blowing the mix between the lens and subject. The effect became clearest in the bokeh, the out of focus regions, as I took a lower stance closer to the sandy ground when photographing the small shorebirds. To illustrate this, here is a photograph of an adult American avocet and its juvenile.

Overall, the experience was positive even though the photographs were not what I had hoped to achieve.