A few sites in Yorkshire are undoubtedly very productive for wildlife photography and Bridlington beach on the Yorkshire coast is no exception. It had been a year since I last visited so I was keen to have another go at some wader photography. I visited with my friend Scott and we arrived on a stunning winter’s day with clear blue skies and little wind. As we walked down to the beach we could already see a number of birds near the shoreline.
Tide times are important and I knew we would be arriving around low tide which gave plenty of time for bird photography. Ideally it works best near high tide when the beach is narrower, pushing the birds closer. We first settled down next to some cover to break up our outline and began to watch the birds. It didn’t take long before oystercatchers, redshanks and turnstones were all within camera range.
The light was beautiful on this winter afternoon and really made the background cliffs of Flamborough glow. Photographing waders on the shoreline provided some nice wide shots showing plenty of environment.
For some reason there seemed to be loads of mussels around today, with almost every bird picking one up and trying to hold on to its catch. It certainly seemed a bonanza out there.!! We both managed some decent shots of one oystercatcher as it left the water with a juicy mussel in its bill.
After a while we decided to get a little closer to the water and lay on our stomachs for low level views. I always love getting this viewpoint, but it can be quite uncomfortable. Luckily Scott had brought his home-made camera support, essentially a frying pan (minus handle..) with screw fit for a gimbal head attachment. It worked like a dream, allowing us to pan (pun intended..) with fast moving waders at eye level. My favourite bird of the day was the redshank; their orange legs are just ridiculously bright! One bird in particular gave us some close views although it made hard work as it sprinted full speed across the beach.!
Whist the redshanks and oystercatchers were a little further away, the turnstones couldn’t have come much closer. We were treated to some incredibly close views of these beautiful little waders as they foraged among the seaweed.
For this shoot I had my 400mm lens with a 1.4x extender attached – but the turnstones were sometimes too close to photograph! They really are excellent subjects. Exposure wise I was shooting around 1000 ISO with shutter speeds up to and over 1/2000. I also selected f9 for a better depth of field and a bit more clarity. The main problem was making sure the whites didn’t blow out so I made use of the histogram.
We tracked a few more oystercatchers as they foraged on the beach and captured some interesting shots with some walkers in the background.
Brildington really is a top place for wildlife photography. The weather had held beautifully and we were more than happy to head home. I’ll be including this location in my One to One Photography sessions from now on.