The Beach in Winter

Windmill Point Dawn

On the surface, visiting a beach north of the Carolinas this time of year is not the smartest thing in the world to do.  High temperatures are in the 40’s at best.  Most mornings, the 20’s.  And don’t let there be any wind blowing.  There are no trees nor buildings around to help protect from the wind chill.  One morning at work, I joked seeing ice on the York River that it was cold enough for a muskrat to wear an overcoat! 

Tundra Swans in Flight

This is a great time for birders, explorers, photographers, and others looking for solitude to enjoy time at a beach.  The migratory species are here.  Canada geese and tundra swans are winter regulars and offer great viewing and photo opportunities.  Depending on where you go, the geese aren’t too people shy and can be photographed with a fairly wide lens.    If your budget allows, a 400mm lens or stronger can put you in the action without much effort.  Those of us of more modest means can still rely on careful and patient stalking to create fine images.  Dunlin and other sandpipers are also numerous and are great subjects to shoot.  Tread carefully and you can almost reach out and grab one.

This is the best time of the year for sunrise photography.  Sunrise is as late as 7:15 to 7:30 AM.  No need to wake up and be on location by 5 o’clock.  Either get the sleep, or be there early to determine how you want to shoot the seascapes and set up your tripod.  The added possibilities of flying migratory birds at sunrise is an added incentive for beach photography. Get up and dress for the weather.  Summertime sunrises come earlier.

Dawn on the Beach

A Wee Bit Chilly

Solitude is a great reason to be here with or without a camera.  My first beach hike of the year was on the first day of the year.  I had Bethel Beach almost all to myself.  I did meet a birder and a couple who were picking up litter.  The next week, it was off to Windmill Point, Hughletts, and Dameron where I was completely alone.  The time spent in reflection of the past year and anticipation for what is to come was far more valuable due to the seclusion in the wide open shorelines of the Chesapeake.  Temperature and were the walls that kept the busy world out of my enlarged closet of prayer.
Keep up with the activities of the Virginia State Parks as well as my other work on the Virginia State Parks Blog.  May peace be granted to you and yours this 2011.
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