Thursday, July 21, 2011

Great day on the bay part 1: a tribute to the tricolor heron

Here's a quote I ran across: "Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence." I'm inclined to change that to "Knowing nature, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing birds, I can appreciate persistence." I think most bird photographers have two qualities in common with their subjects; patience and persistence. A bird requires them for survival, a bird photographer requires them for successful capture of a bird.

Without getting too contemplative, I simply want to convey what a fantastic day it was on the water. I arrived at the bay at 6 am, before sunrise. The water was dead calm and the eastern sky was congested with cumulus clouds (they are actually called cumulus congestus), as is the case every summer morning here in south Florida. During the initial minutes of sunrise, the sun is covered by these clouds but eventually they burn off with increasing temperatures. Here is how the day started:

The clouds burned off quickly and soon I was shooting with clear skies. Low tide was scheduled at 8:40 am, perfect for wading bird photography here on Biscayne Bay. I never know what I will find out here, but the bay never disappoints. Today was a bonanza of bird photo opportunities. It wasn't easy, I can't simply anchor my boat and stay in one spot. Rather, I have to follow the birds, sometimes hundreds of feet away. And at low tide, that often means pushing my boat with some effort through very shallow waters. The grasses provide an easier surface to glide across, but it is not easy. The worse part is when I get into a good position with birds, they move and then I am stuck having to push myself out of the spot and work my way back into another one.

But all that effort pays off eventually and today, it paid off big. Let's see, I captured a few ibises, a green heron, a juvenile little blue heron, a great white egret and a juvenile tricolor heron; over the course of about 4 hours. Each of these birds were a hit, but the star of the day was the tricolor heron.

For this blog, I pay tribute to this patient and persistent bird as it allowed me to get very close to it while it pursued its prey. I love photographing this bird because it offers so many styles of foraging behavior. It's quite dynamic and is almost always moving. Enjoy these photos of the young tricolor heron.


  1. Great shots of his behavior. I love the way he stands. Your sunrise shots are great too. Makes me want to get up early.

  2. Connie, the cloud shots set the scene of a beautiful morning. Great shots of the Heron. You have captured the behaviour really well. Well done on your persistence as well. I too enjoy bird photography and you really need to know your birds are how and if you can approach. Your knowledge is clearly paying off. Great job.