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Mission: Photographing the Bar-tailed Godwit

Posted by Liron on Friday, July 31, 2015
On July 24, a Bar-tailed Godwit was seen at Boundary Bay. Shorebirding is my absolute favorite thing to do at this time of year, so I was really keen to go out there and find it. Unfortunately, the next day I couldn't go. The bird wasn't seen that day either. I got out on the 26th, and was super excited when I got the word that the Bar-tailed Godwit had shown up! I spent a long time watching it with a crowd of birders. It was very distant, but still nice to see:

ImageBar-tailed Godwit (record shot) by, on Flickr

That was as close as the bird got (taken with a 400mm + 1.4x telecovnerter for 500mm on a 1.6x crop sensor camera, the 7D Mark II).

The bird eventually flew off, but other good birds remained in the area: Pacific Golden-Plovers, Red Knot and Ruddy Turnstones. I took a few (distant) turnstone shots:

ImageRuddy Turnstone by, on Flickr

In the evening of July 27, I went out again to see if I could see the godwit another time. Unfortunately, it had last been seen about 30 minutes prior. Nothing wrong with Western Sandpiper photography in sunset light, though!

ImageWestern Sandpiper by, on Flickr

On July 29, I set out once again, hoping to find and photograph the godwit. As the tide rose, I scanned through a massive Black-bellied Plover flock. I spotted a couple Ruddy Turnstones, but where was the godwit? All of a sudden, my binoculars landed on a bird sleeping that looked like the one I was after- could it be? When they are sleeping it is hard to tell (from a big distance) if you are looking at a godwit or a Whimbrel, or something else. Eventually it woke up- it was the Bar-tailed Godwit! Shortly after I spotted the Pacific Golden-Plovers, but I was interested in the godwit, not them! With the rising tide, the bird and its flock kept on flying around, having to re-position because the water was getting deeper and deeper. This gave little chance to approach the bird for photos.

Eventually I got reasonably close, but still not as close as I would like:

ImageBar-tailed Godwit by, on Flickr

A little bit later, I got even closer than before, however the bird kept on flying around, looking for places that were not under water to land. As this was going on, I snapped my closest shot of the bird, a flight shot! I am very happy with how this one turned out!

ImageBar-tailed Godwit by, on Flickr

Later on, I also spotted two Red Knots. Lots of shorebirds were around- 14 shorebird species in total!

Thanks for reading! :) 

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