Along the way to the beach, I bumped into a birder who's been there since 5am and had counted 800+ Ruff roosting in the fields; he was already on his way out by the time our path crossed at about 9am. On the beach there were two other birders stalking raptors in complete camo gear, ghilly suit and all. I went ahead and sat across from where they were.
How was I supposed to know that there were stalking raptors?
I've always complained about other people stumbling into my viewfinder when I'm on a shoot; and here I was making the same dumb mistake. Perhaps we all should carry placards or something stating our intention. "Stalking Raptors!" or maybe some sort of color flag. Red-Do not approach, important stalking in progress. Orange-Approach with caution. Green-Safe zone. These flags should be stuck in the ground with metal stakes with an arrow pointing to where the photographers were.
After a long futile wait, one of photographers decided to abandon raptors completely and focus on Ruddy Turnstone up close and slowly crawled his way towards me. By noontime he had reached where I was. We broke into a friendly conversation, I felt sorry for both of them. One left for lunch and I decided to not completely wreck the other guy's chance of an uber raptor shot so I moved around and shot from his flank instead. We continued like this for another hour or so ... no raptors but I took plenty of close-up shots of Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Red Knot, and Common Redshank, Sanderling, and Ruddy Turnstone.
Waders don't really give a toss of their main agenda to simply feed. Raptors however are a bit more cautious; they are stalking the waders. Waders would flit in and out to the same spot upon identification of threat. Raptors won't even bother making a swoop.
I consoled myself that I did not completely ruined the other guy's day. When I left he was still at it ... hopefully he got his killer shot.
Upon leaving the spot, I bumped into another birder on his way in with a big lens, looking for his killer shot no doubt. And this was Wednesday mind you ...
Dunlin / Myrsnipe / Calidris alpina
Red Knot / Polarsnipe / Calidris canutus
Little Stint / Dvergsnipe / Calidris minuta
Ruff / Brushane / Philomachus pugnax
Bar-tailed Godwit / Lappspove / Limosa lapponica
It's great to be in the field and commune with nature, mano-a-10,000 waders but in a place as important and popular as Jaeren that might be a little difficult to achieve. Shooting weekdays might be a better idea than Sunday for example. Shooting in not so perfect weather could also be alternative. Shooting early probably isn't even a good idea cause most birders rise early anyway. Saturday morning could be a hit and miss sometimes ...
And not to forget, these beaches are also public places. There'd be surfers, frolickers, pensioners, walkers and their dogs on the beach enjoying nature as you do especially on a great warm sunny summers day!
Images and Text: Nazeri Abghani/Aug 2013