Thursday, May 24, 2012

Green Heron on home turf

Lately, the rainstorms have been continuous making it impossible to get out on the water. Too bad because the tides this week were perfect for wading birds in morning light. Problem is, there has not been any morning light most of the time. Finally on Wednesday after a full day of rain, the sun peeked out in the evening. With the rains, there is flooding and there is an open area in my highly populated living community that holds pools of rain water. This is a beautiful thing to see as the green grasses intermingle with the water and the buildings and trees offer some interesting reflections. Come evening, the light on the water pools is irresistible.

The community bird, the musgovy duck is attracted to these pools; and so are the white ibises. I have photographed these birds many times here. I sprayed myself with bug repellent, grabbed a foam mat and headed over there about 5:30 pm thinking I might capture some ibises or some of the baby ducklings that are in great number right now. The ducklings were there as expected, but there was an unexpected visitor this time, a green heron.

At first, the bird spooked, despite my careful approach and flew to a near by tree. As I sat on the mat and captured some ducklings in the water, the green heron eventually came back. The bird was going after two food sources, flying dragonflies (dozens of them flitting over the water) and tadpoles in the water. Soon, the bird had forgotten about me and got within 10 feet. I was shooting at 120mm at one point.

I rarely capture green herons while in the canoe, in fact I doubt I have a green heron photo from the Everglades (from the canoe). The only place I have captured them while in the boat is on Biscayne Bay and I can count those encounters on one hand. Why is the green heron so elusive? It's a small bird, relative to other herons and egrets and it hangs out in the shadows of the mangroves most of the time. Though I may see green herons flying about or creeping around the mangroves; and I hear them often, rarely do they allow me to capture them with the following criteria: good light, bird not shadowed or covered, and background is not busy. But, if I do have the good fortune to capture the green heron with these criteria, the bird often will cooperate and allow several shots of it preening or fishing.

And so it was today. I spent about an hour with the green heron and the musgovy ducks before the clouds and trees covered the sun.

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