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Posts Tagged ‘blue heron’

On an unusually warm date late in November I came upon a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) fishing at my local marshland park. In similar situations I will often stop and wait for a little while to see if I can capture a shot of the heron catching a fish, but generally the heron is more patient that I am and I leave empty-handed.

This time, however, I felt unusually patient and I set up my tripod and waited. The sun was bright and was coming from the left, the direction in which the heron was initially facing. It is tough for me to remain continuously alert when waiting for an extended period of time and I did not react quickly enough to get a shot of the heron pulling the fish out of the water. I recovered rapidly and got some interesting shots of the heron with the fish that it had just caught.

Great Blue Heron

Not seeing eye-to-eye

 

Great Blue Heron

Expelling a drop of water

One of the biggest challenges for the heron is manipulating the fish so that it can be swallowed in a single gulp. Each time that the heron shakes and jiggles the fish, it runs the risk of dropping it. In this case, the heron turned away from the sun and began its maneuvers. It took some time to get the fish into position. In the last two shots, you can see the final steps of the process as the heron dips the fish in the water, presumably to make it slide down the throat more easily, and them flips the fish into the air a final time.

Great Blue Heron

Initial adjustments

Great Blue Heron

Moving into position

Great Blue Heron

Dipping the fish

Great Blue Heron

Final flip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Why was this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) crouching in the water? Was he playing hide-and-seek with his heron friends? Was he seeking shelter in the shade?

The more that I watched the heron fix his attention on the eye-level branches, the more I became convinced that he was stalking dragonflies. Several times he advanced forward slowly, never once looking down at the water, but I never saw him make the rapid thrust that he uses when catching fish. It seems to me that he would get a better reward for his efforts by catching fish and frogs, but maybe he simply wanted some variety in his diet.

When I departed, the heron was still crouching and the dragonflies remained hidden.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I watched and waited as the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) watched and waited. When the crucial moment came, we both reacted and were rewarded—the heron got a fish and I got a photo. For a brief moment, each of us was satisfied.

Great Blue Heron Huntley Meadows Park

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The lighting was breathtakingly beautiful and the reflections were amazing when I caught sight of this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) late last month at my local marsh. The heron was close enough that the 100mm macro lens that i had on my camera was the perfect lens for a portrait of this beautiful bird.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As many of you know from my posting last week, I recently came upon a dead body of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  and several of us who regularly visit this marsh have wondered if perhaps this was the young blue heron who hung around the boardwalk throughout the fall and early winter. We had previously noted that this heron was not very proficient at catching food and worried that it seemed to lack basic survival skills.

I took a lot of photos of that young heron, whom I encountered repeatedly during my early morning visits to the marsh, and decided to post a few photographs from late December and early January. I’ll never know for sure if this heron survived the winter, but these images help remind me of some of the special moments that we shared.

heron_mem3_blogheron_mem3a_blogheron_mem2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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A blue heron with attitude? The pose, facial expression, and hair style of this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) at Huntley Meadows Park, my local marsh, remind me of a punk rocker. Do you think he has tattoos and body piercings too?

heron_punkrocker_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This Great Blue Heron, which I think was a juvenile, was clearly not experienced at hunting for food. Unlike his more patient elders, he seemed unable to stay in one spot for more than a few minutes and his success rate when he made a strike was not very high. He was persistent, however, and I kept hoping that he would pull a frog or some other tasty morsel out of the waters of the beaver pond.

I readied myself as he prepared for another strike and fired away as he triumphantly pulled his catch out of the water. The photo confirmed my initial impression—the big catch was just a leaf that had been floating on the surface of the water.

With more practice, this heron’s fishing skills are sure to improve or it is going to be a long, cold autumn and winter for him.

heron_leaf_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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