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This month's image is possibly one of my favourite ever, I doubt I'll ever forget taking it. I've titled it "Dunlin in Sea Foam Slippers". 

You may have read about my trip to the Outer Hebrides and the isles of Lewis and Harris on my recent blog post. It was a wonderful visit to a part of the world that I hadn't been to before. The beaches were incredible and on one stretch of white sand I encountered a small flock of Dunlin & Sanderling foraging along the shoreline. I was already enamoured with the antics of these little birds, Sanderling are especially feisty for their diminutive size.

Lying on my stomach on the sand - thankfully mostly dry - I waited to see if they would continue to forage towards me. They obliged, though the Dunlins were more wary and kept their distance a little. I was able to take quite a few shots but clearly my presence was putting them off and this was not something that I wanted. I got up slowly and walked in the opposite direction down the beach.

Having taken a couple of wider shots; searched out some tiny, precious orange scallop shells along the high-tide mark; and marvelled at Sea Gooseberries and the remains of a Lion's Mane jellyfish washed up on the shore, I turned around to start walking back towards the car. I hadn't got terribly far when I realised that a pair of the Dunlin had separated from the rest of the flock and followed me up the beach.

I lay down again and, while they were facing the other way, carefully belly-crawled towards them. I only needed to be a couple of feet nearer to get the shots I wanted. They were much calmer and carried on with their search for food. I noticed that as they went through wetter areas or patches of sea foam they dragged their feet to stir it up. The perfect opportunity arose when this individual emerged from a patch of foam with piles of the stuff still round it's feet. 

By now these two little waders were coming so close that for much of the time I couldn't focus on them. They were certainly close enough that I could have reached out and touched them! I have to admit that often I am more focused on getting the photograph than enjoying the experience, but because they were right next to me I had no choice but to watch them and relish in the chance to be so near to a wild creature... I was grinning like an idiot behind my camera!
Canon 60D, 100-400mm Lens, f8.0, 1/800, ISO 160.


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