Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reddish Egret

My list of first-sightings on Biscayne Bay continued to increase, now that I can add the reddish egret. Having only photographed this bird on Florida Bay and the gulf coast, this was a rare treat to see this fun bird. The tide situation was perfect for the morning, but the winds were high enough to make the water messy. I was able to move in close to the shoreline where most of the wading birds were feeding. Within a span of about 1/5 mile, there were several birds and most of them were juveniles, tricolor herons outnumbering all the others that included little blue heron, snowy egret and ibis. And oh yes, my little yellowcrown nightheron albino was found among them today as well.

As I concentrated on the albino, a frisky bird flew into the area and it was colored a bit differently that the rest. At first, I believed it was a juvenile little blue heron, but with more observation I was able to see that it was something else. As I continued to watch it, I began to see the tell tale signs of a reddish egret. It appeared to run across the water chasing a bait fish jumping and with that, I knew I had a reddish egret, a juvenile one at that. This bird searches for food in the most comical way with its wing fanning and jumping.

This was going to be great if I could capture it with a full wing span facing the camera while it catches a bait fish. But, it was not going to be easy and ended up being  impossible. Here's why. The bird did not like me around and consequently stayed a fair distance away (the closest it came to me was about 30 feet away). Upon approaching the bird, it would move itself farther away and this went on all morning. I chased that dang bird over about 1/4 mile span. Imagine if you will how this happens when shooting from a canoe. In order to move the boat well I need my paddle, which means I cannot photograph. Many times, I missed opportunities to shoot the bird in good light and position because I had paddle in hand. As an alternative, I was able to use one or both feet to move the boat in the shallow water, but with the wind, this took some effort and was slow going.

In the meantime, the bird was jumping around, sometimes toward me, sometimes away. This went on for some time. I managed to capture some of its antics, but never achieving exactly what I wanted. I did capture it with a pufferfish in its beak, but the image was not sharp enough, as was the case many times as I tried to stay focused on the fast moving bird.  The water was messy from the wind and grass and the background sometimes interfered with the bird. The bird moved around so much that it often ran out of my sweet spot for lighting or was facing away from the camera. I stayed with it as much as I could, until it finally flew off toward the shoreline, about a 300-ft distance. At that point, I gave up. At least these photos demonstrate some of the movements of the reddish egret.

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