When photographing shorebirds I like to get down to their level which usually means I am getting dirty. I will lay on the sand, mud, grass or get as low as I can in the water to get a low angle perspective. It can bring the viewer into the bird’s world but as a bird photographer I enjoy sharing that space with them too because it gives me a sense of intimacy with my subject.
These images were taken at Fort De Soto County Park in Pinellas County, Florida.
Piping Plovers are small, pale shorebirds, they are about 7 1/4 inches in length with a wingspan of 19 inches. They can live up to 11 years. Their status is vulnerable throughout much of their range. There are two subspecies, one that is found along the Atlantic and Gulf coastlines and the other is an inland species.
Piping Plovers nest in shallow scrapes in sand, gravel, salt flats or dunes which leaves their nests vulnerable to predators and in danger of being accidentally stepped on. The chicks are precocial and begin to run around not long after being born. They look like little tan cotton balls on stick legs. The feed on small mollusks, insects and marine worms in typical plover fashion, run, pause and pluck.
When I photographed this Piping Plover I was flat on my belly where the shallow waves of water pushed onto the sand. I have found that if I lay still enough the birds will approach me while I am “down & dirty”.