Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Bold Green Heron

Not that the color of the heron was bold, but the heron's actions were bold.  I had gone with a friend to a swampy area in a park here in the county which was suppose to be one of the best places to observe wood ducks since there were a lot of nesting boxes. We didn't see any wood ducks but while we were standing on the edge of the swamp, three herons flew into the swamp from the Chesapeake Bay (we were right on the edge of the bay), made a wide circle and flew back out. All except one, which landed in a dead tree, then dropped down to hunt among the lily pads in the swamp.

It wasn't like we were hiding.  We were standing right out in the open on the edge of the swamp, but the bird was unfazed by our presence.  At one point, moving to a stump no more than fifty feet away, it crouched down studying the water and slowly leaned forward extending it's neck until it looked like it might fall on it's face. Look at the size of it's feet!

The water couldn't have been more than a foot or two deep there.  Having acquired it's target, if suddenly dove in, creating quite a splash. If you look, however, at the smaller splashes furthest from the bird, you can make out the small bodies of a fish in each one as they jumped away from the bird.

I have enlarged part of the same picture so you can see the fish better.

The heron came up out of the water with a small minnow in it's beak. The entire incident happened within just a second or two, so these images were taken in high-speed burst mode, one right after another.  I love pictures that allow you to see something you would never be able to see with the naked eye, like the water streaming off the heron's wing as well as the stream of water coming off the fish.

Turns out, two of the best pictures I have ever taken (this one and the last) were not really planned. As a trip to acquire wood duck photos, the trip was a total failure.

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