Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Black-crowned Night Heron’

How much of the environment do you show when your primary subject is a bird? Normally I try to fill as much of the frame as possible with the bird through a combination of zooming and cropping.

Yesterday as I walking along Cameron Run, a suburban waterway that feeds into the Potomac River, I spooked a Great Blue Heron when I took a few steps in its direction. A smaller bird was also spooked and it flew to a rock in the middle of the stream. I was thrilled when I realized that it was a Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), a bird species that I don’t see very often.

It would have been easier to get a shot if I had been carrying my long zoom lens, but instead I had my 180mm macro lens on my camera. Fearful that the bird would take flight again, I took some initial shots and then slowly moved forward. As I climbed over large rocks toward the water’s edge, I’d stop and take a few more shots. After I reached the water, I decided to change lenses and put on the 70-300mm lens that was in my camera bag and, of course, the night heron flew off as I was changing lenses.

When I was at the closest point, I was able to capture an image that, with a lot of cropping, shows some of the beautiful details of the heron, including its startlingly red eyes, but as I looked over my images, that was not my favorite one. My eyes kept returning to the landscape shot. in which the heron is only one element of a beautiful composition of rocks and water.

What do you think? I’m posting three different shots of the night heron with varying amounts of background context, so you can see how the scene changed as I zoomed with my feet (and cropped in post processing).

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I decided to take a break from insects and went walking along the biking trail at Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, where I encountered this Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). As its name suggests, this species is usually most active at night or at dusk, so I was surprised to see one in the middle of the day.

As I was headed down to the water’s edge, I flushed the bird, which took off for some nearby rocks and perched on one of them. I got a couple of shots of the initial action, which gives you an idea of my initial view of the night heron.

In this the first and last shots, I think the heron was scratching an itch, which is a little tough when you are perched one-legged on a pointed rock. Eventually the itch was satisfied and the night heron flew off into the cooler confines of a leafy tree, probably to take a siesta until it was time to fish for dinner.

heron4_night_blogheron1_night_blogheron2_night_blogheron3_night_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

In the past six months I have photographed Great Blue Herons and little Green Herons, but I had never encountered a black-and-white heron like the one that I saw yesterday.

He was about the size of a green heron, but the coloration was different. At first I wasn’t sure that it was a heron, but as I watched him, he perched on the bank and stared intently at the water, just like I had seen the Green Herons do.

Actually, I am exaggerating a little when I call it a “bank,” for the little heron was in what appeared to be a man-made canal at the edge of the runways at Reagan National Airport. The water was muddy and slow-moving, but there must have been some kind of sustenance in it, because there were also ducks nearby.

What kind of a bird was it? Judging from the photos that I took, it was a Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). The scientific name, Nycticorax, means “night raven”, according to Wikipedia, and refers to this species’ nocturnal habits and harsh crow-like call. This “Night Heron” was actively hunting for food during the day, despite his name. Maybe he was hungry or the noise of the nearby jet engines was too loud for him to sleep. The Black-crowned Night Heron is the most widespread heron in the world and has a range that spans five continents, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

This photo of the heron shows part of the concrete wall of the canal in the background and the netting that was being used to contain the rocks. The lighting was not that great, but I think that you can see some of the details of this interesting-looking bird, including his red eyes.

I don’t know why, but every time that I look at this photo, it looks to me like the heron is wearing an ill-fitting toupee.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »