Tag Archives: san francisco bay

Pelican Formations

When we lived in the Bay Area, I got used to the pelicans being around. Only when you move away do they suddenly become interesting again. I used to enjoy the formations of pelicans touring the bay and to see a bunch of them heading towards us at Fisherman’s Park was fun. They approached us head on before curving around the shoreline and away. Their low level flying is so effortless, I become jealous of their ability to float around the bay with freedom.

Formation Work with Gull

Hayman and I were shooting at Anza Fisherman’s Park.  As the name suggests, this is a popular spot for fishing and this seems to attract the attention of a lot of gulls.  There was a steady breeze which allowed the gulls to hover close above us and sometimes alongside us.  We didn’t have anything of interest for them but it took them a while to work that out.

I got some shots of them as they hung around us.  The background of a few was disturbed a little by the fishing poles that were propped up but the long lens wide open managed to isolate them from most of the background.  They were a bit like photographing aircraft in formation but they didn’t necessarily respond to the directions I had for the shots I was after.  Not the best formation pilots for photo work I guess.

Swirling Wakes of Silt

San Francisco Bay has some strong tidal flows and crossing the bay is the San Mateo Bridge.  It has to resist these regular flows which it does without any problem.  There is a lot of silt in the bay and, as the tide is changing, this silt can get churned up, particularly by the turbulence around the piles for the bridge.  As we flew down the final approach, I was able to get some shots of the aby that included the bridge and showed clearly the turbulence behind each bridge pile courtesy of the silt.  This is something that an aerial view will give you that you would no notice as you drove over the bridge.

Salt Beds

The south end of San Francisco Bay has a number of areas that are encircled with walls that allow the water to be cut off.  These are used to dry out salt beds for harvesting.  The sun evaporates the water and the salt is left when all the water is gone.  After harvesting, the tide can be allowed to flood the beds again and the process repeated.  One cool thing about these beds is that, presumably as a result of algae, they can turn some interesting colors as the water evaporates.  I was flying in to SFO for work and we turned right over the beds on to the approach.  With the sun out, the colors looked excellent.

Departing the Bay at Sundown

This post may seem a bit symbolic but it is a bit of a cheat.  I flew out of SFO heading up to Seattle to go to my new place.  The flight left around sunset and, as we climbed out above the bay, I got some lovely views of the water, the city and the cloudscapes with the last light of the day.  As the sunset on my time there, it was rather appropriate.  (The reason it is a cheat is that I came back a few days later and left again by car.  That wasn’t so dramatic so I shall stick with this version instead.)

Shovelers Doing Their Thing

The shoreline of San Francisco Bay has a bunch of ducks.  Of the ones I see a lot of, there are two main species.  The Mallards are a duck you will see almost anywhere.  The others are the Shovelers.  As the name suggests, Shovelers like to shovel around in the murk at the bottom of the water to see what they can find.  Their bill is shaped to help with rooting around in this mud.  The result can be that their heads are no longer the color of the feathers but are, instead, covered in mud.

There is plenty of muddy shallow water along the shore so the ducks will often take off and head to different feeding grounds.  It’s fun to try and get them in mid-flight.  If things are closer, they will save energy and paddle to their next spot.  The best shots are when they come up covered in mud.  They look almost surprised by what a mess they are!

Flocking in Some Numbers

I don’t know whether a murmuration is a thing specific to starlings or whether it applies to any large flocks of birds.  I was looking out across San Francisco Bay recently and there was a large flock of birds whirling over the water in the direction of the San Mateo Bridge.  It looked just like a murmuration of starlings I had seen once before but I don’t think these were starlings.  I have no idea what type of bird they were and what they were up to – hunting or something else – but I was transfixed watching them for a while.  A still doesn’t give you much impression of the motion but at least you can see that it was a big flock swirling around.

Evening Over the North of the Bay

These shots come from a little while back.  When you are doing an air to air session, there is a fair bit of spare time.  Unless you head out and back in formation, you have the transit time to yourself sitting in e back of the camera ship.  You can stare out of the open door and see what is drifting by.  We were heading back to Sonoma and so I got a great view towards the north end of the bay.  The light was dropping down as evening came in so the hills and the marshes looked really pretty.

Sailing Across the Bay on a Windy Day

B11I0652.jpgPlenty of my times alongside San Francisco Bay are airplane or wildlife related.  You do get to see lots of other things on the bay, though, and on a windy day the sailing is definitely worth a look.  Having grown up in a sailing town, I do love to watch sailing, even if I never got into sailing myself.  A lot of boats were out on this day.  I don’t know whether they were racing officially or just were out testing each other but they were certainly getting some speed on.  Watching the sails full of air with the boat healing over dramatically and making good speed is really cool.