Tamy and I visited some familiar ground during our recent trip back to Southern California. Having graduated with degrees in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (EEB) from U.C. Irvine, we had spent many days surveying the coastal wetlands that stretch from Redondo to Laguna. Although most of the pristine estuaries that I recall have now collapsed under the weight of the development, fragments of the Southern California wetland ecosystem still remain. Two of our favorite locales are the Bolsa Chica Conservancy and the Back Bay. Situated about an hour south and west of Los Angeles, these tidal plains are oases for migrating shorebirds, ducks, and herons.
We awoke at 3:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning hoping for a traffic-free drive down to the coast. Our goal was to catch first light as the sun rises above the foothills to the east. Having done this many times in the past, I knew that there was only a brief window of opportunity to shoot flocks of birds as they arrive or awaken to the morning sun. On a cloud free day, there is about one hour of "magic light" followed by a haze that makes for less appealing photography.
In my fatigued stupor I made a wrong turn and we found ourselves gliding across the Long Beach Bridge... miles from the Bolsa Chica. After twenty minutes of cruising and cursing I recognized my error, back-tracked, and somehow made it to the wetland just as the orange glow of dawn appeared.
High tide reduced our opportunity to photograph the rich diversity of shorebirds and herons that I recall from prior shoots; this, however, did not detract from the fun. The coastal breeze, morning sun, and avian songs made for a great sunrise and another incredible experience in place that I still like to call home.
Image #1: Sunrise with Pintails. Bolsa Chica, California. Canon 7D + 300 f2.8IS + 1.4xConverter @ f4.0
Image #2: Dare to be Different. Back Bay, California. Canon 1DmkII + 400 f5.6 @ f5.6
Image #3: Sandpiper Bath. Bolsa Chica, California. Canon 7D + 300 f2.8IS + 1.4xConverter @ f5.6
Image #4: Willet. Back Bay, California. Canon 7D + 300 f2.8IS + 1.4xConverter @ f4.5
Image #5: Least Sandpiper. Bolsa Chica, California. Canon 7D + 300 f2.8IS + 1.4xConverter @ f5.6
Image #6: Morning Pier. Bolsa Chica, California. Canon 7D + 300 f2.8IS + 1.4xConverter @ f4.0
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