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Posts Tagged ‘Butorides virescens’

Even before this pandemic, I liked to avoid people when I was out photowalking in the wild. Ideally my contemplation of nature is a solitary and silent pursuit. Now that I am retired, I have the luxury of avoiding the weekends, the peak times when my favorite spots are sometime overrun by groups of noisy people. 

Most of our weather in recent weeks has been either hot and humid or rainy, so I have not gone out as often as I would have liked to do. Last Sunday afternoon, however, the weather was nice and I was really itching to take some pictures. I decided to visit Ben Brenman Park in nearby Alexandria, Virginia to search for dragonflies. This wide-open park has large athletic fields for playing soccer and baseball and also has a small pond where I have found dragonflies in previous years. There were a good number of people there, but it was easy to avoid them because there were no trails to restrict my movements.

As it turned out, I did not find many dragonflies, but I did spot this cool-looking Green Heron (Butorides virescens) at the edge of the pond, perched on some kind of post in the water. My view was blocked by vegetation, but I was able to find a visual tunnel that gave me a mostly unobstructed view of the heron.

I have always loved Green Herons, which always seem to have more personality and a wider range of facial expression that the Great Blue Herons that I see more frequently. When they are hunting, Green Herons tend to stay near the water’s edge, where they blend in with the vegetation, which is why many people have never seen one.

We are still in dragonfly season, but I anticipate that I will be featuring more birds in my blog postings in upcoming months. This time of the year my eyes get a real workout, because I need to be simultaneously scanning low and close for insects and far and high for birds.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have not seen as many Green Herons (Butorides virescens) this year as in previous years, so I was happy to spot one this past Tuesday during a quick trip to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in nearby Vienna, Virginia.

Green Herons are smaller and squatter than the more commonly seen Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias). Normally I see Green Herons at water’s edge, because their shorter legs do not allow them to wade into deeper water, and they are often partially hidden from view by vegetation. This Green Heron, though, had placed itself at the edge of a drainage system in the middle of a small pond, which is why I was able to get an unobstructed shot of this handsome bird.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) was practicing its yoga on Saturday while perched on the railing of a small bridge at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. In the first image you see the rarely observed giraffe pose—don’t try this at home or you many end up in traction. The second shot shows the green heron with its neck in a more relaxed position.

I am amazed by the amount of neck extension the green heron was able to achieve—I am willing to stick my neck out for others at times, but not to that extent.

Green Heron

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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It was wonderful to travel to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in nearby Vienna, Virginia with some friends this past weekend. Although I really enjoy going back repeatedly to familiar spots, sometimes it’s nice to move outside of the “box” and see something different, or at least in a different environment.

One of my favorite subjects of our little photo trip was this delightful Green Heron (Butorides virescens) that I spotted at one of the small ponds at the park. Green Herons are a lot lower to the ground than Great Blue Herons and are often difficult to find. I was lucky to see this one from a distance as I was circling the pond and managed to carefully creep close enough to have a low shooting angle and an unobstructed view.

green heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Technically speaking, “great” is not a part of the name of the Green Heron (Butorides virescens), but I would argue that this diminutive bundle of personality is just as deserving of the honor as the more common Great Blue Heron.

I was thrilled to see my first Green Heron in quite some time on Saturday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The little heron was perched on some vegetation growing out of the marshy, duckweed-covered water as it took a break from fishing to do a bit of preening. While the heron was grooming itself, it often had its head tucked out of view, so I had to wait for quite some time to capture this pose, a pose that highlights the beautiful colors and patterns of this great Green Heron

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I didn’t see the Green Heron (Butorides virescens) actually catch his breakfast last Friday morning at Huntley Meadows Park, but when he climbed up onto a protruding branch he gave me a quick look at the fish before swallowing it.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Green Herons (Butorides virescens) have so much personality packed into their small bodies. This one almost seemed to be smiling as it flew by me last weekend  at Huntley Meadows Park. Perhaps it was just my imagination running away with me.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Why do we like certain photos more than others? What makes a good image? These questions churn away in my brain every time that I have my camera in my hand and often even when my hands are empty. Sure, there are rules and guidelines and generally accepted norms, but often it comes down to personal, unexplainable preferences—I like what I like.

Last weekend I spent a lot of time observing Green Herons (Butorides virescens) at Huntley Meadows Park. I kept trying to capture action shots of the herons catching fish or flying through the air, but I pretty much came up empty-handed. Oh, I took a lot of shots and once I wade through them all there may be some decent images of the herons that I will choose to post, but none of those images really spoke to me during my initial review of the photos from that day.

I was drawn instead to some images from early in the day when a fellow photographer and I spotted a Green Heron in the trees in the distance. We were standing on a boardwalk, so there was only a limited freedom of movement to frame our shots. There was a lot of vegetation that partially obstructed our view of the heron. I searched in vain for a visual tunnel that afforded a clear view of the entire body of the heron. Still, the light was beautiful, so I kept shooting—when it comes to birds, expressions are so fleeting that it is best to shoot a lot of images.

I decided to post this shot and attempt to explain why. There are so many things that I like about this image that I am not really bothered by the leaves that blocked my view. What do I like? I love the tilted head as the heron looks to the sky and basks in the sun; I like the little head feathers that look like a cowlick; I really like the shapes and colors in the background; and I am happy that I was able to capture some details in the wing feathers.

Is it one of my best shots? No, it is not, but I choose to post images that I like and especially the ones that make me happy, like his image of a pensive, relaxed Green Heron in a tree.

green heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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This little Green Heron (Butorides virescens) somehow managed to find a perch in the midst of the thick vegetation growing out of the water yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park. From this higher vantage point, the heron was able to scan the area better for potential prey, though I never saw it catch anything.

Was the Green Heron imagining how much easier it would be if it were as tall as a Great Blue Heron?

green heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) picked a particularly precarious perch from which to focus on a potential prey this past Monday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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As the seasons change, new birds appear and disappear at my favorite marshland park—Huntley Meadows Park—in Northern Virginia. We are fortunate to be along the migratory route for birds flying north and south and are far enough south to be a destination of some overwintering birds.

Unlike the Great Blue Herons, which remain with us all year, Green Herons (Butorides virescens) leave in the autumn and I eagerly await their arrival in the spring? Why? I am utterly fascinated by these squat little birds, despite the fact they have none of the elegance of the Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets. They always strike me as industrious and diligent and go about their work, generally avoiding the spotlight. Green Herons also seem to have an abundance of personality and almost seem capable of expressing emotions. Finally, Green Herons have a subdued, but refined beauty, a beauty that I was able to capture in this image from yesterday morning.

Welcome back, Green Herons. I missed you. Perhaps it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although I enjoy watching the Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons at Huntley Meadows Park, the much smaller Green Herons (Butorides virescens) are my favorites. Green Herons just seem to have an amazing amount of personality packed in their compact bodies.

I think they deserve to have a “Great” in their name too.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A Green Heron (Butorides virescens) was perched this morning on the raised edge of the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park, peering down into the murky water. Apparently the heron didn’t like what it saw, for it turned abruptly and decided to cross the boardwalk. I captured this shot as the heron was taking its first tentative step in the new direction.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love watching Green Herons (Butorides virescens) stalk a prey. Their movements are so focused, cautious, and deliberate they appear to be moving in slow motion.

Like the Great Egret that I featured yesterday, Green Herons migrate out of my area during the fall and it is always exciting to welcome back these colorful little herons. Green Herons often are often hidden in the vegetation at water’s edge, but this one cooperated by moving along a log in the water as it tracked its potential prey. This particular hunt was not successful and shortly after I took this photo, the heron flew off to a more distant location.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Against the wind, this Green Heron (Butorides virescens) looked like it was facing into a strong headwind and running against the wind early Monday morning at Huntley Meadows Park. In fact, the air was calm and the wind-blown, tousled look was merely a grooming choice by the heron as it prepared for the new day.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was preparing to leave work yesterday, one of my co-workers reminded me to wear something green today to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Some people go a little crazy on this day, drinking green beer and consuming food that has been dyed to an unnaturally bright shade of green.

To celebrate the day, I thought I’d reprise a few photos of some of my favorite green creatures, including the Common Green Darner (Anax junius), the Green Heron (Butorides virescens), a green metallic bee, and little green frogs. If you are viewing the images in the blog itself (and not the Reader), click on any one of the photos to see a larger image in slide-show mode.

For those of you also celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, be safe and have fun.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do herons laugh? Herons remind me of many people in the Washington D.C. area—they are serious, focused, and driven. How do herons relieve their stress?

Yesterday morning I was observing a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) at my local marshland park. Suddenly he opened his mouth wide in a huge smile and appeared to be laughing.

I am not sure what prompted his actions, but I couldn’t help but smile. Laughter, after all, is contagious.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday as I was exploring Ben Brennan Park, a suburban park in Alexandria, Virginia with a pond, I spotted a young Green Heron (Butorides virescens) in a tree. I took some initial shots and then was able to creep up to the tree and shoot almost directly up.

I have taken numerous photos of Green Herons, but this is the first time that I’ve ever taken a shot showing the underside of the bill. I love to shoot familiar subjects hoping to see them from new perspectives or engaging in interesting behavior.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

heron4_up_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The full moon was bright and beautiful early yesterday morning, when I arrived at Huntley Meadows Park as the sun was just beginning to rise.

I struggled a little, trying to figure out the best way to capture the moon. Should I show the moon against the black night sky? Should I show merely its reflection? Should I show it as an element of a larger composition?

Here are some of my attempts to show the full moon in the predawn light at my local marsh.

Green Heron

Green Heron in the moonlight

Full moon in the night sky

Full moon in the night sky

reflections of a full moon

Reflections of a full moon

full moon

Moon over the marsh

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The Green Heron (Butorides virescens) was mostly in the shadows yesterday as I observed him at the edge of a small stream. When he bent down, his face was briefly illuminated and I managed to capture this action portrait with a fascinating interplay of light and darkness.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Recently Green Herons (Butorides virescens) have been more numerous than in the past at my local marshland park. Most of the time these little herons are obscured by the vegetation at the water’s edge or by the branches of the trees in which they like to roost.

Early one morning last week, however, I watched one of them stalking potential prey from a log in an open area. The little heron seemed focused, but relaxed. From time to time the Green Heron would become more alert and rigid and he would stare more intently at the water.

On this occasion, they were all false alarms and I didn’t see him catch anything for breakfast. Eventually he seemed to give up and flew off, presumably to a better location for catching something to eat.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Like a ninja assassin, the Green Heron (Butorides virescens) moved slowly and stealthily forward, completely focused on an unseen prey. I watched and waited. After what seemed like an eternity, the heron relaxed. Whatever had attracted its attention was gone.

The heron was left empty-handed. Fortunately, I was more lucky and departed with this cool portrait of him in his natural environment.

Green Heron

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Green Herons seem so intense most the time when I seem them, standing motionless in one spot, ready for a strike.  What do they for relaxation or for fun?

Early this Monday, I caught a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) in some unguarded moments and learned some of its secrets. Who knew that Green Herons like to dance and to sing? They also appear to meditate, centering themselves as they start their days.

It’s not easy being green.

Green Heron

Practicing for a part in Riverdance

Green Heron

Anyone want to join me for show tunes?

Green Heron

Early morning reverie

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sun was barely up, but this little Green Heron (Butorides virescens) was already busy, trying to find something to eat for breakfast. Alas, I didn’t see the heron catch anything this time before it moved out of sight. (If you want to see a fun shot of a Green Heron looking directly at a frog that it had just captured, check out my post from July 2012 entitled Not Seeing Eye to Eye.)

Green Herons are a lot smaller than the Great Blue Herons that I see fairly often  and quite a bit more elusive. This heron seemed to be just waking up and wandered about a little on the muddy edge of a former beaver pond before entering the water. That is how I was able to get the second shot that shows the heron’s legs.

I was probably at the limits of my ability to take photos in limited light. I was shooting at ISO 1600, about as high as I dared go with my somewhat dated Canon 50D. As is usually the case, I was using aperture-preferred mode with a selected setting of f/8. What I didn’t realize until afterwards was how slow the shutter speed was—as low as 1/20 sec for these shots, quite a bit slower than optimal for a focal length of 500mm on my 150-600mm lens. Focusing in the limited light was a little slow, but seemed to be pretty accurate. Usually I don’t dwell quite so much on the technical aspects of my shots, but I know that some folks have questions about the capabilities of the Tamron 150-600mm lens in low light and wanted to share my experiences (which are mostly positive).

Green Heron

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Generally I prefer to have a natural background for wildlife shots, but when a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) that I was observing this past Friday at my local marsh took off, I ended up shooting it against the backdrop of the boardwalk. I really like the look of the resulting shot, which juxtaposes those natural and industrial elements in an unusual way.

If you enjoy photos with this type of contrast of the natural and the man-made, check out my posting from this past week of an “industrial” dragonfly.

Green Heron Huntley Meadows

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do your mix humor with your photography? I enjoy playing with words (and especially puns) and love looking for opportunities  to inject humor into my blog postings. One of my favorite bloggers, Lyle Krahn at Krahnpix, is a real master at mixing his incredible wildlife shots with a kindred kind of humor (or perhaps he might say “humour.)

This past Monday was my blog’s second anniversary and I am taking a brief pause from posting new photos to think about the blog and my photographic journey over the last two years. During this period I am re-posting some of my favorite postings.

The re-posting today of an encounter between a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) and a frog was one of my earliest attempts to add humor, from the title all the way down to the last line of the posting, and is one of my favorites over the past two years. Here’s a link to the original posting or you can read it in its entirety below.

Full text of blog posting on 24 July 2012 that I entitled “Not Seeing Eye to Eye”:

One can only imagine what is going through the frog’s mind as he looks into the crazed eyes of the green heron who has just speared him. Is he looking for mercy? Is he resigned to his fate?

I watched the prelude to this moment unfold this afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park, a marshland park here in Virginia. The green heron was intently scanning the water from the edge of a boardwalk that runs through the march. Periodically he would extend his neck down toward the water.

Several times we heard an excited “eeep” sound followed by a splash, indicating another frog had escaped. After a few more minutes, however, the heron dived into the water and reappeared on the boardwalk with the speared frog you see in the first photo.

When you look at the comparative size of the heron’s mouth and the frog, it hardly seems possible that the green heron could swallow the entire frog. The heron took his time shifting the position of the frog and then all at once he turned his head, bent his neck back a little, and down went the frog. It happened so quickly that I was able to snap only a single photo that shows the frog’s webbed feet as the only remaining parts that have not yet been swallowed.

In this final photo the heron no longer has a slim neck. I have no idea how long it will take for the frog to reach the heron’s stomach but I am pretty sure he was not yet there when I took this photo.

And don’t try to talk with the heron during this period. Why not? Read the caption of the last photo!

I can’t talk now. I have a frog in my throat.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Green Herons (Butorides virescens) are once again hanging out at my local marshland park. Unlike Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias), which fish while wading in the water, these smaller herons usually wait at water’s edge or on vegetation, which normally makes them tough to spot. This Green Heron, though, decided to perch on a log in plain view, which allowed to take this rather formal looking portrait shot.

 

heron_green_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Recently I had the chance to observe a Green Heron (Butorides virescens), one of my favorite birds, as it waded into the water at the edge of a small pond and focused its attention on catching a meal.

It was fascinating to watch the heron’s movements—it moved so with such care and stealth that it almost seemed to be moving in slow motion. At times, the heron would lean forward, as in the first photo, perhaps when a potential prey caught its attention.

The water in the pond was very still and I was happy to capture some nice reflections of the heron. They presented a minor dilemma for me in deciding how to crop the shot. Was it better to crop tighter and emphasize the main subject, as I did in the first shot, or to show the entire reflection, as in the third shot, which is the same image cropped differently? What do you think?

In many ways, the second shot is my favorite one. The heron had started to slowly move away and then turned its head back and opened its mouth a little. That little gesture seemed to give the heron more personality and it looks almost like it is smiling.

green_heron_close2a_bloggreen_heron_close1_bloggreen_heron_close2_blog

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The water has gone down in some parts of my local marsh and I encountered this Green Heron (Butorides virescens) in a little tree that overlooked one of the dried out areas.

I am not sure if the heron was hunting or resting, although it looked more like the former than the latter, because he seemed to be looking from side to side. Perhaps he was searching for frogs or some other terrestrial prey.

I did not have my longest telephoto lens on my camera, but I was happy that to get some several decent shot of the little heron in a number of different poses.

limb1_bloglimb3_bloglimb2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Can you spot the heron in this photo?

I think that you probably can pick out the Green Heron (Butorides virescens), which blends in pretty well with the vegetation, a little easier than I was able to do, when I visited my local marshland yesterday. The heron, which I think might be a young one, was foraging about in the marsh plants, unlike other Green Herons that I have seen in the past, which tended to stand near the edge of the water awaiting prey. If the heron had not moved, I might not have seen him, because it was so close to the ground.

I really like the colors of the Green Heron and its distinctive yellow eyes. The Green Heron may not be as big in size as a Great Blue Heron, but it has its own beauty—maybe I should begin a campaign to change its name to Great Green Heron.

heron_grass1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It seems like I have been seeing Green Herons (Butorides virescens) everywhere recently. Of course, that is an exaggeration, but within the last month I have encountered Green Herons in three separate locations.

Out of the three locations, this is the most suburban—a little pond at a local garden, surrounded by grass on most sides. The other locations are in marshy, wooded areas.

I observed this Green Heron this past weekend and think it is a juvenile. Normally I have trouble identifying juvenile birds, but adult Green Herons have yellow legs, while juveniles have greenish legs.

I happened to have my 100mm macro lens on my camera, so I had to try to inch my way toward the heron to get this shot. I like the heron’s pose with its head tilted up. Ideally I would have liked to blur out the background more, but I don’t find the green grass to be too distracting.

juvenile_green1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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