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.