[My homage to Nina Simone, in the form of blurred wings and texturized Dunlins.]
When thousands of shorebirds frolic on the mire, their wingbeats rattle like seashells strung in the wind … just the lightest of chimes, near silent except for the rush of air over 15,000 pairs of wings. They become a coil, spiraling sometimes at 40 miles per hour into shape shifters, turning their plumage from dark to light to flashing white to confuse the hunting Peregrines.
They are a wave of synchronous moves, each bird matching her turns with the next bird, through sight, sound and maybe even the feel of air as it weaves through the flock. Watching from the shore I see a jigsaw puzzle of bird beats. They ripple into formation, then airbrush the marsh in black, white and rust before making footprints again in the mud, with their tiny sandpiper feet.
:: Photographing on a gray day in Grays Harbor, Washington, I slowed the shutter to 1/15 for some wing blur (Olympus E-3 + Zuiko 50-200mm, f18, ISO100). I liked how some of the Dunlins didn’t lift off here, giving the image a bit more variation and texture than one of a fully flighted flock.
I love the effect you got with this photograph Ingrid. The Dunlins in breeding plumage that refused to yet take flight make the image even more interesting. I hope everyone clicks on the photo to see the larger image so they can feel the rush. Of course, there is nothing like being there to see a large flock of shorebirds as they turn and flash and disappear.
Larry, the disappearance of a huge shorebird flock in flight is one of the more miraculous things we witness, isn’t it? There are those videos, too, of Starling murmurations in Italy or the UK, with a confounded Peregrine just about standing off to the side, rubbing his head. 😉
Love the photo, and the Nina Simone tune that inspired the title. Thanks! 🙂
Kieran, I wasn’t sure who’d written the original and discovered it was Anthony Newley, for the musical, “The Roar of the Greasepaint –the Smell of the Crowd.” Here’s the original audio (YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UW4fE2x1hxk
Beautiful image and words Ingrid. I adore seeing flocks of shorebirds inflight and watching them flash as they turn, I think it is mesmerizing!
Mia, I agree. There are so many natural phenomena that keep me engaged (and out of trouble) for hours. I wish I wasn’t so often photographing on a lunch break. 🙂
Very moody and dreamy; I also like the panoramic framing.
Your poetic description gives the image even more artistic beauty than what it originally revealed. Everything about this post is endearing.
Thank you, Bea. Now you know where my mind goes when I’m out there with my camera. 🙂