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Posts Tagged ‘heron’

Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge were really busy yesterday now that much of the ice has broken up and is melting. This heron caught a fish so big that it really seemed to be struggling to gain altitude as it flew away.

Temperatures in our area have been below freezing for almost a month and I was starting to get worried that the Great Blue Herons would starve. Somehow, though, they manage to survive. I did not actually see this heron catch the large fish. I first caught sight of the heron when it flew with the fish to a section of floating ice in the distance and tried to manipulate the fish into position.

Eventually it seemed to have decided to head for solid ground and I captured this shot just after the heron had taken off from the ice. I tracked it in the air as it flew to a little island in the middle of the bay, where I hope it was able to finally swallow the fish.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do you start your mornings? This Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) faced into the morning sun for quite a while last Friday as it stood amidst the foliage atop a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The heron looked around a bit before deciding it was finally time to start its morning grooming routine.

The light was especially beautiful that morning and the heron was either unaware of my presence or simply did not view me as a threat. After I took some shots, I continued on my way and the heron remained in the tree and continued its morning preparations.

 

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) decided to try out a new vantage point at Huntley Meadows Park on Monday and surveyed potential prey from atop the boardwalk. Although the heron looks to be contemplating diving into the water, it eventually jumped into the water feet first.

I love trying to capture birds in motion, but am happy to settle for images in which there is a kind of tension and anticipation of action, rather than a more static pose.

Great Blue Heron

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The water levels are really low in many parts of Huntley Meadows Park and it seemed like this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) was looking over mostly dry land as it surveyed the landscape this past weekend.

The banding of the colors in the background add some visual interest to the image, without being distracting. I was standing at the edge of a dried portion of the marsh and that permitted me to take this shot from a low angle, looking slightly up at the heron.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Generally when I see a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in a tree, it is roosting in a protected location and napping. Early one morning this past weekend at Huntley Meadows Park, however, I spotted this alert heron perched on an exposed dead tree, looking like it was playing the role of a sentinel.

I initially caught sight of the heron from a distance and followed a path in the treeline that let me get almost underneath the heron for some shots. The sky was overcast and there was not much light, causing the background to appear white and the images to be almost monochromatic.

Great Blue Heron

 

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes I will intentionally use a slow shutter speed when I am panning a moving subject to blur the background and give a sense of motion, but that was not the case with these photos—I was shooting in aperture-priority mode and simply wasn’t paying attention to the shutter speed that the camera was giving me. In all three of these images, the shutter speed was 1/100 of a second, which is really too slow for handholding my 150-600mm zoom lens.

As the old saying goes, though, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I really like the way the background was rendered and am not at all bothered by the somewhat soft focus on parts of the moving heron.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Some birds seem to explode out of the water when they are taking off, but Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) often seem to gently lift off with almost no splash at all. The Great Blue Heron at Huntley Meadows Park were really active early yesterday morning, frequently flying from one location to another. They seemed to be more intent on socializing with each other than with finding food. In a future post, I’ll look more closely at that behavior, which might be related to courting, but today I’m focusing on one heron’s gentle liftoff.

I’ve watched herons take off hundreds of times, but this is one of the first times that I have been able to capture the moment of liftoff from the water. In this little sequence of three images, you can see the heron rising up, leaving the water, and gradually gaining altitude. The stillness of the early morning helped create some wonderful reflections,  a nice bonus that adds some additional visual interest to the images.

heron liftoff

heron liftoff

heron liftoff

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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