Privileged Time With Some Area Birds

I continue to be amazed at the number of people who visit here and read “A Green Heron Colony.” After “A Game Changing Bird Photography Camera,” a piece about the then-new Canon EOS R5 full-frame mirrorless camera, it’s my most-read post. I’ve written a lot about other species of birds, like the Osprey and Killdeer, but for readers of this blog, anyway, none seem to have the cachet that the Green Heron does. 

Capturing the Herons

In the last few posts, I mentioned a greenspace near our home. I visit the place a lot, mostly to check on the Osprey nest. It’s private property—but thankfully, I have permission to use it. I wouldn’t step foot on it otherwise. Here’s another in a series of wildlife photos I’ve taken there. This is a foraging 1rst summer Green Heron. But notice its raised crest. It had just spotted me and was about to take off, which it did. It wound up in the crown of a nearby tree before returning to the pond edge.

Green Heron
Green Heron

In the last blog, I made a big deal about photographing wildlife when the sun is low and behind the shooter. Here, because of the bird’s shadow, you can tell that the sun was low and behind this shooter (and to my right).

I took the photo at 7:12 a.m. The sun had risen an hour and 15 minutes earlier. The lighting was perfect. It was soft and yellow, the bird was evenly lit, revealing detail and color, and the only shadow was the one cast by the bird.

Here’s the bird 10 minutes later, at 7:22. It may have found a better place to forage. This is a busy photo, and there are hot spots and other distractions, but notice how pleasing the bird appears in the morning light and especially how even the lighting is.

Green Heron
Green Heron

I love it when photos illustrate or teach us something—when they’re more than just snapshots. The above 2 photos not only illustrate the importance of light but also an important fact about Green Herons. The Green Heron is a species that is almost always found in places where water meets land. Water meets land in both photos.

I’m not sure the same thing can be said about the Great Blue Heron, but a juvenile visited the greenspace and pond edge a few days later. It, too, spent time foraging. I took its photo mid-morning. I like the interplay of light and shadow here, and also the sense of movement.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Here’s a close-up. You can tell this is a hatch-year bird because some of its natal down is still visible. Notice how smooth, not to mention beautiful, its feather coat is. That smoothness is one of the many things that enable flight.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Watching the Ospreys

I mentioned the Osprey nest. Shortly before I spotted the Great Blue and as I was approaching the pond, the male dove on me. Since the sun was behind him and not me, I had no choice but to take a backlit photo. There was no way I was going to get a good exposure. Backlit photos can be every bit as eye-catching as frontlit ones. Never limit yourself when you’re out there.

Male Osprey
Male Osprey

The Osprey pair that built the nest are now parents. Here’s a close-up of the female feeding the chick. The male had just delivered a fish. Of course, there’s a stick in the way.

Female Osprey and chick
Female Osprey and chick

I visited the greenspace a few days ago. This time the female dove on me. When there are chicks in a nest and something or someone perceived as a threat approaches, Osprey parents will issue alarm calls and dive. Since the chick is growing fast and probably moving around a lot in the cup, the female either stays on the rim or perches nearby. The nest has become flatter as a result. Here, she’s returning from her mission to get me to leave. She’s landing on a utility pole near the nest.

Female Osprey

Female Osprey

Not only is the Osprey nest not far from water (and fish), but there are a number of places near the nest where the adults can perch. From what I’ve observed, the presence of open perches near a nest is a plus.

And This Just In 

I posted this photo with these words on Facebook: “This young eastern cottontail was about the size of my hand. It approached me and my wife as we took an evening walk. I had zero trouble capturing it.”

Eastern cottontail
Eastern cottontail

A viewer responded, “Why would you have to capture it? They should be left alone. Just saying!” I assumed the person was serious and replied simply, “‘Capture’ is photography jargon.”

I continue to write about light. How can I not? Here’s a photography tips piece that covers the topic well. It also covers composition and post-processing and is an interesting and informative read. You’ll benefit from reading it.

We could say that Ospreys live where water meets land. Ospreys eat live fish, and they seldom nest more than 10 miles from water. The nest I’m monitoring is just feet from a farm pond, a half-mile from a trout stream, and 5 miles from a major river. The builders chose wisely. So much for bird brains.

Female Osprey
Female Osprey

Quip, Question, Quote(s)

“The Green Heron (Butorides virescens) is a spectacular species familiar to anyone who pays attention to the places where water meets land.” Mike Bergin

“Ospreys live conspicuous yet unhurried lives. Observing them offers a respite from our own more frantic ones, a chance for self-reflection while we learn about another species.” Alan F. Poole

Not to take away from Alan’s statement, but the same could be said about Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, and any number of other birds.

Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “Privileged Time With Some Area Birds

  1. Proper lighting is everything in photography. Equipment and processing can help but nothing can take the place of early morning and late afternoon lighting. Nice article, Dave.

    Like

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