I've decided to dedicate a whole blog post to these particular species of bird because of how much I have enjoyed working with them. They were not only a joy to watch and photograph but it was also a joy to process and work with the images too.
On this particular day in Skye, I had just arrived back to the house in Broadford Bay, after a morning of enjoying a lunch in a local village hall with accompanying folk music from Skye famous, Rick Taylor and friends. Having been on the Island for a week already, I had developed a routine glance towards the beach and the mud flats that lay merely yards from the house we were staying in, for it had fantastic views of all the waders and sea-birds that passed by.
I had come accustomed to spotting the odd orange beak of the Oyster Catcher and recognising the movements of the thousands of Dunlin that roamed the shore - but this time I spotted something I did not recognise in the distance. The binoculars proved to me a wader with an orangey plumage and a straight pinkish beak. I had enough experience to piece together the clues to understand that what I was in fact watching was what I believe was at least 20 Godwits feeding further down the bay.
I was out the door with my camera and 500mm already pre-attached to a monopod in an instant and half ran, half tiptoed across the beach. (I was distracted momentarily by the ever wonderful Dunlin and Ringed Plovers and even a couple of Red Shanks along the way.)
Once I got closer I realised that I was going to have to get my boots a bit wet in order to get near enough. I crept forward, stopping every couple of steps to get a few shots, until I realised the water was now above my boots and starting up my legs. I couldn't stop there. I was so close and the adrenaline was kicking in - so I carried on forward. I was busy firing away at the shutter, blessing my lucky stars that the light was so good as to allow me to be shooting at 1/640th at f/10 giving me plenty of clarity and freezing their characterful movements. It was however, at this point that I realised that the inlet of land ahead of me was disappearing fast, the Black-tailed Godwits and the 2 or 3 Bar-Tailed Godwits I had discovered with them, were moving away from the sandy bank and moving into the fast approaching sea. I had a few more moments working with them with nothing behind them but sea and rock when the water level had became too high for them to look for grubs and they took off in a splendor of noise.
Turning back towards land, I was shocked to find the tide had come in behind me and now had no choice but to wade back through the sea that had now risen above my knees, with my camera and monopod above my head. I was extremely glad to have left my phone at the house in my rush, as it would surely have drowned in my pocket from my foolish but worthwhile misjudgment of tide times.
I hope you enjoy the images as much as I have enjoyed taking and working with them!
Click images to enlarge.