Friday, December 16, 2011


When I saw the dying fish in yesterday's post drifting upriver with the tide, I realized that the great blue heron standing on a dock a couple hundred feet away would, in all likelihood, see it and fly out to investigate it's edibility.  At least that is what I was hoping.  So I double checked my camera settings to make sure everything was ready and thought through what I anticipated would happen.
In filming many subjects, it helps to know enough about it, to anticipate what will happen next.

There are few things in the world of nature more boring than a great blue heron in it's normal flying posture.  Neck folded over in an S, feet dragging straight behind, frown on it's face, flap, flap, flap.  I had long before swore I would never take another picture of one like that.  On the other hand, a great blue heron on a mission can be very animated.  I hesitate to say "graceful," but they will go through a lot of posturing to hover over the water, which is difficult to do for a bird of this size.  That is what I was hoping for when the heron spotted the shad and I was not disappointed.

On espying the fish, the heron flew out over the river without hesitation to inspect the fish.  (An osprey won't eat a dead or dying fish.  A great blue heron won't.  An eagle will eat anything.)  To fly slow enough to stay over the area, it had to do things like drag it's feet, and I was able to capture a number of interesting images.  In this photo, the fish can be seen almost directly below the tip of the heron's bill.

When the great blue heron dismissed the idea of retrieving the fish, it turned and went back to the dock.  I thought that would be the end of it but, as it turned out, we were just getting started. 

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