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View of a bathing plover is product of local knowledge, photo smarts, and stillness

Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola), Grand Harbour West Dykes, Grand Cayman Island, December 27, 2014, 7:38 a.m., by Raybel Robles

Grand Cayman, the largest of the Cayman Islands, lies due south of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea. On the island’s south side, just east of the capital George Town, is an area of wetlands and mangroves known as the Grand Harbour West Dykes, a good spot to find wintering shorebirds.

Raybel Robles
Raybel Robles

The Black-bellied Plover pictured above was one of about 60 that spent the past winter at the dykes, says photographer Raybel Robles. He tells us he was lying down, photographing a Black-necked Stilt one morning in late December, when about 15 to 20 plovers landed close by.

Some started bathing. Others gazed curiously at Robles, who remained stock still on the ground and quickly turned his attention to the newcomers. In no time, he had his photo. The plover had just finished bathing and was flapping its wings to dry off. Robles posted the shot to our World Gallery.

Robles is an assistant financial controller for a law firm on Grand Cayman Island. He started birding about three years ago, when he bought his first camera. Today he photographs only birds, and he has traveled to Florida and New Mexico to find them. He picks up each new issue of BirdWatching at a local supermarket and often shares photos in our galleries and on Flickr.

Robles used the following equipment and settings to photograph the plover:

Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II with 2x teleconverter
Settings: 1/640, f/8, ISO 450, manual mode
Light: Natural
Format: RAW converted to JPG

A version of this article appeared in the June 2015 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe.

Originally Published

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