Posts Tagged ‘green heron’

As the summer temperatures have soared, I have been seeing fewer birds and therefore I was surprised when a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) flew in and perched on a log in the middle of a small pond where I was photographing dragonflies.

I saw his arrival from a distance and at first thought it was a duck, but as I crept closer, it became clear that it was a Green Heron. Most of the times when I have observed Green Herons, they have been intently focused on catching prey. This heron, however, seemed to be content to check out the area and apparently didn’t like what he saw, because he did not stay very long.

I really like the contemplative look of the heron in both of the images here. Something must have caught its attention in the second shot that caused the heron to extend its neck and look upward—Green Herons almost always look down toward the water. I like the way that the heron has cocked its head.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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One of the advantages to taking photos in the rain is that the birds and animals seem a little less sensitive to my presence and there are fewer other people around to spook them. This past weekend I came across this Green Heron (Butorides virescens) at relatively close range while it was raining.

The heron was perched on a log, just about the level of the water and I had an unobstructed view of him.  Despite the sound on my shutter as I snapped off some shots, the heron seemed oblivious to the fact that I was there.

Initially, the little Green Heron stood on the log, surveying the situation. Eventually, he bent over a bit to look more attentively at the water for potential prey. After a little while, he hopped off the log and I lost sight of him in the plant-filled water.

This is one of the few times that a Green Heron has not taken off immediately when I saw it or,  as is often the case, before I even saw it. As a result I was able to get my clearest shots of a Green Heron to date, though, of course, I’ll continue to be on the lookout for even better shots.

heron_log1_blogheron_log2_blogheron_log3_blogMichael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I stopped dead in my tracks on Monday when I spotted this Green Heron (Butorides virescens) as I was walking along the boardwalk at my local marshland park.

Only rarely have I had such an unobstructed view of this beautiful bird. My camera was already affixed to my tripod and I slowly opened its legs and set it down, all the while keeping my eyes on the Green Heron. I didn’t dare to make any sudden movements and felt like I was moving in slow motion as I inched my way forward to the edge of the boardwalk.

I don’t know if the heron was actively hunting for prey, but he seemed really focused and unaware of my presence (or was willing to ignore me). Initially upright, the heron gradually leaned more and more forward and appeared to be focusing even more intently.

My breathing seemed loud in my ears and my shutter sounded like a machine gun to me, but the heron hung around long enough for me to get some pretty good photos. Eventually, though, he got spooked and flew away, but I think I have an idea of the general area in which he hangs out, so I hope to encounter him again.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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On Monday as it was raining,  I encountered a Green Heron (Butorides virescens), one of my favorite birds. Initially he was perched atop an abandoned beaver lodge, but he took to the air as I approached. He flew to the edge of a cattail patch, where new shoots have started to appear during the last couple of weeks. The cattail shoots help contribute to the green backdrop for this Green Heron.

I was happy that I was able to get an unobstructed path to this little heron—normally Green Herons are at the edge of the water or are in trees, where it’s almost impossible to get a clear shot.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I was thrilled this past Saturday when I caught sight of this Green Heron (Butorides virescens), because green herons have only recently returned to the area after spending their winter in warmer locations.

The lighting situation, however, was really problematic. There was beautiful dappled sunlight in the background, but the heron was mostly in heavy shade and his back was illuminated with harsh sunlight. I played around with a number of different settings and this was one of the better images.  I still had to make some adjustments in post-processing to pull some of the details out of the shadows, which made the final image a bit grainy.

I really like the Green Heron’s pose, as he looks off into the distance. I don’t think that he was actively fishing, but was merely relaxing in the shade of the tree.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I love to shoot in the rain. This past weekend the weather was threatening, but I went to Huntley Meadows Park anyway and was happy to see both a Great Blue heron and a green heron. It was already sprinkling a little when I started to take some photos of this little green heron and I had my umbrella out. I like the effect of the raindrops on the surface of the water. The light was interesting too and the heron cast a reddish, blurry reflection in the water.

Green heron in the rain

The weather started to worsen as I headed toward the location where I previously had seen a Great Blue heron. That area has a two-tiered observation area and I knew the lower level is partially sheltered from the rain. I arrived just in time as the rain started to come down really hard. The first photo of the Great Blue heron shows him standing in the water as the rain pours down. It didn’t seem to bother him at all. The quality of the photo is not that great (the light was bad and I upped the ISO), but I like the effect. The second photo shows the same area as the downpour is ending and the water appears as a very vivid green and looks almost tropical.

Great Blue heron in the driving rain

Great Blue heron as the rain tapers off

The rain may not be the time to take perfect photos, but I personally like the look that it gives to some of the photos that I shoot.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past weekend I managed to get this shot of a green heron wading in a shallow stream. At that moment I don’t think he was yet aware of my presence.  I had an unobstructed view and the light was cooperative enough to make a nice reflection in the water. If you click on the image you can see some additional details of the green heron.

Wading green heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This is a shot of a green heron in the third different location where I have seen a green heron within the past month or so, all within a five mile radius of where I live in suburban Northern Virginia, outside of Washington DC. I came upon this little guy while I was walking down a stream bed and he flew into a tree when he became aware of my presence. Luckily he was still very visible in the foliage and, in fact, the green leaves serve as a nice backdrop to highlight the beauty of this green heron.

Green Heron in a tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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After I got home from work today I rushed to a nearby garden to get in a few shots before the light disappeared totally. I was happy to spot a green heron (I’ve photographed them before at the pond area of this garden) and managed to take a photo of him that I really like. The green heron is standing the edge of a rocky cliff and appears to be keeping watch.  (In reality it’s more like a rock wall).

Green Heron Sentinel

I decided to add one other photo of the green heron that I managed to take before he flew across the little pond to the rock wall. It is a little more of an unposed shot than the first one, which almost looks staged, and captures him in his more natural environment.

Candid shot of a green heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past weekend seems to have been my heron weekend. I posted some photos of a great blue heron that I saw on Saturday. However, I realize that hadn’t yet gone through all of my photos from Friday, which included this shot of a green heron perched on the dead limb of a tree.

The tree was overlooking a muddy pond and I couldn’t tell if the green heron was just resting or whether he was preparing to hunt for prey. The situation afforded me an unobstructed view of the green heron and I quickly started taking some shots, suspecting (as turned out to be the case) that my luck would not hold for long. The green heron soon jumped from his perch and moved farther away into some undergrowth when he focused his attention on the water.

I was totally fascinated and watched him from a distance for quite a while. Several times he “alerted” by extending his neck and leaning toward the water, but I didn’t managed to see him catch anything.

This image captures some of  of the green heron’s gorgeous colors. I especially like the chestnut color around his neck and the intensity of the yellow of his eyes.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It may sound like a new summer beverage sensation, but the title is meant to be literal.

I captured this shot of a green heron  just as the rain was beginning to fall this afternoon. I was at the same pond at a local garden where I had previously seen a juvenile green heron (and that was right after the rain). Maybe green herons like to come out to play in the rain—I’ll have to remember that in the future.

There really wasn’t enough light for a high quality image, but I think that I managed to capture the unique look and style of the green heron.

(I also got some photos of a juvenile green heron this afternoon but I’ll save them for another posting.)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday’s blog entry featured the adventures of a young green heron catching and swallowing a frog. After the snack was consumed, though, the heron moved from the boardwalk into the marshy area. There he perched on a branch and seemed to pose for me, maybe figuring that his exploits were worthy of a magazine feature.

The resulting photograph is one of my favorite shots of the whole day, because I think it captures well the rugged beauty of this young bird. The background is a little distracting but I like the reflections in the water and the angle of the ranch.

I decided to include two additional action shots from yesterday. The photos seem to show that I probably was incorrect when I stated that the heron had speared the frog when he initially caught it. It looks like the heron was merely holding the frog with his beak as he adjusted its position. Now that I think about it, the process of swallowing the frog would have been complicated if the frog had been speared.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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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Stereotypes of a heron’s  appearance

This past weekend I visited a pond at a local garden and encountered this interesting bird. He looked a little like a heron but had a totally different body type—he was shorter and squatter than the herons I was used to seeing. I have photographed blue herons and white herons and have a mental picture of what a heron looks like. They are tall and slender and posses a fashion model’s elegance. Could this really be a heron?

Surveying the situation

Playing and posing like a child

I was alone with the bird for quite some time for the gardens were deserted after a thunderstorm. The beautiful bird, later identified as a juvenile green heron, seemed to be unusually willing to remain as I attempted to photograph him. At times he even seemed to be posing for me. Like a child he was enjoying himself, running around and playing in the water. He definitely was not intent on adult-type tasks such as catching food.

Full body shot. Don’t I have great legs?

Is this enough of a smile for you?

It’s a green heron

I am pretty confident that this bird is a green heron (Butorides virescens). Wikipedia helped me determine that he is a juvenile because of the brown-and-white streaked feathers on his breast and the greenish-yellow webbed feet. (The adult green heron has a darker bill and a more pronounced  chestnut-colored neck and breast.) NatureWorks has some summary information if you want to quickly learn about green herons.

This grass feels really good on my bare feet.

A tool-using bird

My favorite website for information on the green heron, however, belongs to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which includes range maps and audio files. It also noted the following truly amazing fact about green herons, “The Green Heron is one of the few tool-using birds. It commonly drops bait onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted. It uses a variety of baits and lures, including crusts of bread, insects, earthworms, twigs, or feathers.”

Ready for my close-up

Maybe the green heron should have its own reality television show, “Fishing With a Green Heron-Choosing the Right Bait. You Don’t Even Need a Hook”

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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