View Full Version : snowy plovers and terns

Aidan Briggs
11-29-2008, 10:32 PM
Does anyone know some good spots to photograph snowy plovers and various tern species. I live in San Luis Obisbo County, and the closer the spot is the better.

I was considering Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Does anyone know anything about it?

I have a 100-400mm lens. Do you think I will need a 1.4tc at this location?

Thanks in advance

Joerg Rockenberger
11-29-2008, 11:10 PM

Carmel is not really close but you can get really close to Snowy plovers at Carmel State Beach. I stumbled upon them this evening as they were huddling down for the night. They are relatively used to people there as it is a pretty busy beach and let you approach to ~25ft.

No terns though.

Good luck. JR

Aidan Briggs
11-30-2008, 12:14 PM
Thanks for the info, John. I'll have to look into that.

Dan Brown
11-30-2008, 12:40 PM
Aidan, I've been able to get pretty close with my 80-400 nikon at the mouth of the Carmel River. I don't know if this is "Carmel State Beach" or not, but I would recommend you get there early before all the people and dogs show up! The plovers that were present when I was there a couple years ago weren't scared away by the people/dogs, but they were disturbed and flew around.

Joerg Rockenberger
12-01-2008, 12:58 PM
Dan, Aidan,

Yes, they are the same. And Dan is correct with people/dogs stirring up the birds. Yesterday morning I was about 18 ft away from the flock after slowly approaching and finally crawling on my belly for about an hour. The light was great and the birds relaxed when from behind a woman with a dog approached and walked right through the colony in front of my lens. Needless to say they all took off. :(

Good luck. JR

Aidan Briggs
12-02-2008, 07:13 PM
Thanks Dan, John. I'll have to get there early. Is there any certain part of the beach that has the most plovers, and or other shorebirds?

Joerg Rockenberger
12-03-2008, 11:30 AM
There is a lagoon behind the beach which had some gulls and mallards, coots, buffleheads, a pelican and briefly an osprey on Saturday evening/Sunday morning. You can overlook the beach from two bluffs. With binocs there might be a chance to locate the flock from up there without walking the entire length of the beach schlepping your gear. The Snowy Plovers can be anywhere in principle but Saturday/Sunday they stayed relatively close to the lagoon and parking lot as the rest of the beach was occasionally washed over due to very high surf.

Good luck. JR

W T Lloyd
12-08-2008, 11:21 AM
Coal Oil Point beach and Deveraux Lagoon area adjacent to UC Santa Barbara - the beach is a nesting area for the snowys, it is taped off in the spring to help the birds. Also Ormand Beach in south Oxnard, another nesting spot, again, it is roped off during the season.
Plenty of good access and southern light behind you. The chicks are fearless, many times I have had them run up to me well within MFD of lens I was using.

Terns also nesting at these places, plenty of juvenille feeding for a lengthy period after they fledge.

You should join the Yahoo Santa Barbara and the Ventura birding groups - frequent posts regarding the Guadalupe and Santa Maria area bird sightings.

Aidan Briggs
12-08-2008, 06:23 PM
W T Lloyd,

Thanks for the info, are you able to focus throught the fence, or is it just a rope? Do the plovers/terns come outside the fence?

Thanks alot.

W T Lloyd
12-09-2008, 01:44 PM
It's just a rope, and the chicks will literally run up to your feet. Closest at Coal Oil Point, in my experience, be sure to check the tides as the surf can run right to the rope line at high tide there...