Great Blue Heron in Flight

Ten days ago, I was biking in the Everglades National Park, working hard to get some photographs of the Great Egrets and Great Blue Heron in flight. I write to you today from my desk in Pennsylvania, because my efforts paid off and I have more images to share!

Great Blue Heron is up and away, spreading those enormous blue wings and stretching out its long body. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.

For you photographers out there, I had to use ISO 2500 in order to freeze motion with a shutter speed of 1/1000 and keep the aperture wide enough to achieve enough depth of field that the heron would not fly out of my focus zone too quickly. My camera is the Nikon D800, with the Nikon 70-200 mm lens, handheld. When birds take flight, it is a challenge to keep them sharp in the final image.

The success of this image reminds me of why I prefer still photography to video: with a print, one can freeze this moment to enjoy forever. All of these camera settings worked to create an image you can enjoy as a 10″ x 10″ print, available on my website.

Tricolor Heron On the Go

This sequence of photographs of the Tricolor Heron in the morning light show his feathers from many angles. Such a delicate creature..

Landing on Bunche Beach near Fort Myers Beach, Florida, this Tricolor Heron is foraging for his morning meal.
Tricolor heron comes in for a landing. Look at that spread of blue feathers.
Tricolor heron flies on to a better spot in the creek, showing his white underside.
tricolorheron, feathers, eye, closeup, nature, wildlife, fishing, feeding, wading, foraging, march, Florida, beach, Bunche, fortmyersbeach
Tricolor heron walks by the water’s edge to get a better look at the photographer. He sees us with that red eye.

Who Am I?

This mostly white bird seen in the southwest Florida swamp stumped some experienced bird watchers who were guessing its identity. What do you think? Yes, it looks like a heron with that long beak, but it’s not blue…at least not yet.

 

#heron, #blueheron, #corkscrew, #florida, #naples, #corkscrewswampsanctuary, #juvenile, #whoami, #birdphotography
This juvenile blue heron has just a hint of blue on its beak and in its feathers.

My first guess was the Wurdemann’s Heron, a  mostly white mutation of the Great Blue Heron, that I had recently learned about and sighted in Rookery Bay.  Don’t we love to put our newly found knowledge to work? But the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary naturalist gently corrected me: this is a juvenile Great Blue Heron.

If you have some birding knowledge to share, please leave a comment to this blog. I’m happy to start a conversation.

Exciting Sighting: Wurdemann’s Heron

I love Nature and Birds and Learning in general, so I find it super exciting to be introduced to a beautiful bird that is new to me. I spotted and photographed my first Wurdemann’s Heron in Rookery Bay south of Naples, Florida in March 2018.  What is a Wurdemann’s Heron, you might ask?

#wurdemanns, #heron, #morph, #southflorida, #rookerybay, #florida, #birdphotography, #nature, #Wildlife, #sony
From a slow moving boat around the mangroves in Rookery Bay, we spotted a Wurdemann’s Heron perched on a high branch.

It is a color morph of the Great Blue Heron and the Great White Heron. The size resembles that of the Great Blue Heron I have seen. It is a handsome bird.

#wurdemanns, #heron, #birdphotography, #bird, #southflorida, #florida, #sony, #wildlife, #nature
Seen from another angle as our boat circled the Wurdemann’s Heron’s location, you can appreciate his long legs, white belly and breeding plumage.

And one more image before he flew away.

#wurdemanns, #heron, #rare, #morph, #rookerybay, #birdphotography, #sony
The Wurdemann’s Heron shows the red shoulder of the Blue Heron and more brown coloring than either the Great Blue or Great White.

Photographer’s note: these images were shot with the Sony a2r7 and the Sony Zeiss 100-400 mm lens (at 400mm) at 1000 ISO, f/8 and 1/800 or 1/1000 second. Evening light was low, and it was necessary use a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the boat I was on. The Sony performed well with minimal noise and a sharp rendition of the subject. These images were cropped and processed in Lightroom;  the file size was reduced in Photoshop for the smooth loading on this blog post.

Proud Great Blue Heron

Wouldn’t you like to start every day feeling this confident — with your face to the sun and your head held high? I will keep this image in my mind.

#heron, #greatblueheron, #breedingplummage, #plummage, #sunset, #sanibel, #dingdarling#tamron, #nikon, #reallyrightstuff, #proud, #lookatme
Great Blue Heron holds his head high while crossing the sandbar on Sanibel Island, Florida.

More Dance Moves (Reddish Egret)

Bird photography gets really fun when you are trying to capture unique behavior. This Reddish Egret I observed on Sanibel Island, Florida had some cool moves. I was amused by the head tilt that began his feeding dance. In this image, it looks like he is given the duck some attitude.

#reddishegret, #egret, #heron, #feeding, #fishing, #dance, #headtilt, #nikon, #tamron, #sanibel, #dingdarling
The Reddish Egret begins his feeding dance with an amusing head tilt. You can see the transmitter attached to his back.

#reddishegret, #egret, #heron, #dance, #feeding, #fishing, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #wing, #tamron, #nikon, #birdphotography, #bird
Using one outstretched wing to shade his prey, the Reddish Egret takes a better look at his dinner.

 

Reddish Egret Dance

I drove three hours roundtrip last evening to Sanibel Island, hoping to observe and photograph some birds during low tide at the Ding Darling Nature Preserve. It seems you never find what you expect to find — the white pelicans or the roseate spoonbills — but lucky for me, I met a  big bird that was new to me: the Reddish Egret.

The medium-sized heron is not too common, categorized as “Nearly Threatened,” and this bird wore a transmitter on his back. Some naturalist is keeping track of his movements. I enjoyed watching the unique way the Reddish Egret fishes by wading in shallow water and using his wings to shade the prey right before spearing it. With my 600mm Tamron lens, I had a close look and spent about a half hour tracking it as it moved about in the shallows. Of course, I had to use a tripod to steady the heavy lens.

#reddishegret, #heron, #dance, #feeding, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #behavior, #florida, #wadingbird, #bird #tamron, #nikon
The Reddish Egret shades its prey using its wings like an umbrella. Look at the evening light on its translucent pink bill.

#reddishegret, #bird, #wadingbird, #heron, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #fishing, #behavior, #dance, #tamron, #nikon, #florida
The “gotcha” moment for the Reddish Egret as it spears a fish. See its unique red and blue coloring.