In, what I am sure is an effort to keep ahead of his busy schedule, Santa Claus made an early delivery to the La Paz area. Actually, I guess I should give credit to one of Santa’s helpers, as the early arrival of this package was made possible by FedEx and my wife, who happened to be in Washington last week. She was visiting Seattle, for her Dad’s successful heart surgery. On her return, she was able to bundle up and bring with her, a brand new Nikon lens. This beautiful piece of glass, Nikon’s newest 200-500MM is just amazing! There is sure to be bit of a learning curve with this lens, with its faster, more sensitive auto-focus and a completely different set of vibration reduction settings. I am of the belief, that camera equipment is much like golf clubs. While the new technology is really fun, and I am sure that it is an improvement to some degree, but you still have to have at least a little bit of skill. I am sure that if I keep practicing, I will get this down.

The arrival of this new piece of camera gear, and the fact that it just happens to coincide with some of the largest numbers of migrant birds I have seen in this area in the last 6 years, has certainly made me a happy camper. I have yet to post my counts on eBird, but in visiting one of the areas I take my guests, there were hundreds of Western and Least Sandpipers, nearly 200 Wilson’s Plovers, over 100 Black-bellied Plovers, 40 Greater Yellowlegs, and nearly 100 Black Skimmers, just to name a few of the huge numbers of birds. We have for the past few years had a small resident population of 10 or 11 American White Pelicans, but now our number is up to 48. Whimbrels, Willets, Marbled Godwits, both Long-Billed and Short-billed Dowitchers, Long-billed Curlews, and American Avocets all gathered in impressive numbers. Common, Elegant, Royal, Least and Forester’s Terns are all here, working back and forth along the moving tide line. Of course, we still have our local egrets and herons, as well as both White Ibis, and White-faced Ibis, all rounding this out to be one of the most amazing bird gatherings I have seen in many years. In fact, the last time, would be back in the late 70’s with my college classmates when we traveled to Malheur Refuge, up in Oregon

Here is one of three large groups of peeps, mostly all Least Sandpipers.


Below is a sampling of my first day out, Sunday morning, with this new lens. This is going to be so much fun!! Thank you Santa.


This Yellow-crowned Night Heron nearly landed on my head, before dropping in to the water in front of me.



There were plenty of peeps for me to focus on.





One of the huge thrills I got was to watch a Peregrine Falcon sweep thru the tidal area, spooking one of the large flocks of sandpipers, and then flash back thru the flock and grab breakfast.



We still have a nice group of Large-billed Curlews.





I have never considered Black-bellied Plovers to be very large, but to a Western Sandpiper, they must be monstrous.


I was able to get a shot of this Reddish Egret sitting on a stump, exposed by the falling tide…….



Only to have this American White Pelican quickly run it off.


The Short-billed Dowitchers had stayed back in the Mangroves for most of the morning, but slowly worked their way out into the open.


This Laughing Gull caught a small Pufferfish, which, acted as is it’s nature, and puffed up. This makes them a very difficult meal!


I am always very excited to catch up with a Mangrove Warbler….I just hope someday it will become a species all by it’s self. Hey Santa, there is another idea for you!




Written by Tom Brown
Tom Brown grew up in the high desert area of central Oregon. His love for birds and photography started at a young age. Thru the course of time, travel, and a lot of different occupations, he ended up living in Seattle, and met a girl with a sailboat. When he is not scouring whatever area they are in, looking for the next great bird photo, he can be found trying to earn enough money for the next adventure, and of course, a new lens or camera body! Having been nick-named “The Bird Nerd” by his last remaining friends and family, Tom continues search for that next lifer, and the accompanying photo that goes with it. Find his continuing adventures, photographs, and guiding opportunities at Focus on Feathers.