Black Mussel Catcher

Well, actually a Black Oyster Catcher but there aren’t any oysters in Valdez so she was going for Mussels. I was sitting on the lowest dry boulder I could find on the beach and was taking photos of this family (two parents and 3 chicks) from about 40 ft. away so as not to disturb them. After a couple of hours, the mother (based on her extra attention to the chicks) apparently decided I wasn’t a threat and instead of flying back to the brood with her latest catch, she strolled right on by me as if I wasn’t there. There I was with the 100-400 and I could almost reach out and touch her! My movement didn’t seem to bother her either so I got a number of super close-up shots. It’s interesting that from that close, with the light at her back, the feathers appeared more brown than black.

Sony a6500, FE100400GSM @ 150mm, ISO-400, f/6.3, 1/2500, hand held.

If you would like your image to be eligible for a feature on the NPN Instagram (@NaturePhotoNet), add the tag ‘ig’ and leave your Instagram username below.

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

Wonderful image. Thanks for the explanation re: tight crop. Works well for me. Any photos of the chicks?

Jim; Yes. Coming up in my next post. She ended up gathering them up and walked them right by me going the other way!

Gary, this is a nice close-up of her enjoying lunch. I love it that you caught her with the mussel shell on the end of her beak. Looking forward to the chicks.

This is wonderful, Gary. I love the feather detail and subtle coloration and it’s interesting to see how it carries the mussel.