Dunlin

The dunlin are under attack from a Peregrine Falcon. During low tides the dunlin can get in and feed and quickly spread out and are much too hard to hunt. During a high tide when they are waiting to get back in to feed they are in big flocks doing various murmurations preparing for the attack. When it comes they really bunch up and get tight.

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Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
R5, 500mm + 1.4 Ext., f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO 1600 Full width and pano crop. I brought out the bg island to give a bit more depth and a complimentary shape to the flock. This is the original color.

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A very cool flock image, David. Shows you how little I know of shore birds-I thought they spent the winters further south. Maybe I should get out to the local shorebird haven. The long wedge shape makes for a very nice composition and suits the pano format well.

Great choice to use a pano format. I love how all the “levels” (from top down) fit perfectly. Not sure if that is understandable. (By levels I mean the sky, land, water, dunlins and water). I initially thought the bottom strip of darker water could be cropped, but not so sure since the horizon water has a darkness, too. I really like this.

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In addition that you captured this very interesting situation, I really like the composition. The shape of the flock of birds is duplicated by the mountain range in the background.

A very interesting image and works well with the pano crop. I wonder how this would look as a black and white?

I love this. The juxtaposition between the shape of the flock of dunlins and the shape of the island is great. If mine, I think I’d darken the trees on the island to better emphasize them.

Hi David, very interesting image. The shape of the flock makes for a dynamic composition especially with the background elements. well done.

What a amazing image, I like everything about it: the numbers, the flock, the almost monochrome feel and the panorama style is excellent, as is the BG which gives sense of the surroundings. Only bird I miss is the peregrine, but despite that it’s a stellar image ! Congrats. Hans

Thanks @ola, @Allen_Sparks, @Lyle_Gruby, @Dennis_Plank, @Jim_Gavin, @ and @Hans_Overduin for the constructive comments. They are always appreciated and of course welcome.
It is a little different bird image but I thought interesting. Duck hunting is over now so i can work the tides and weather to try for some closer and more interesting shots.
Dennis I would think Willapa Bay area would be a very good spot, but you probably already knew that.
Lyle I had to work pretty hard with a graduated filter to get what I got for the distant bg. When I went further I started to get some strange green colors showing up. I was happy with this.
Hans of course you are right. Getting the falcon in action is the shot but beyond my reach for sure. Video, lots of time and getting much closer is probably the way to go. Occasionally I do get the falcon by luck only. The other day I had a series of shots showing the falcon separating one dunlin from the flock. The chase was just above waterline. As the falcon closed in suddenly the dunlin disappeared. The next frame the falcon veered to one side. The next frame had a big splash of water perhaps 3 feet high and the next showed something on the surface. A desperate move by the dunlin. Of course the action is very small in the frame and of very poor quality.
In pursuit flying the Peregrine can reach speeds of up to 60mph or 88 feet per second or 26 meters. So at 10 frames per second the camera covers a lot of ground.

For some reason I like these naturally monochrome images. I had played with the blue channel a bit and did not think of a black and white version.
Thanks for your comment.

Such a cool image! This sounds like it is very interesting to observe! I like the pano crop

Love this scene @David_Leroy. As others have said, the shape of the flock in reverse to the shape of the distant mountains makes for a cool balance. Awesome to catch them all so close, in tight formation. Beautiful.