Special Tools

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.

A few weeks ago I posted some photos of a Green Heron in the act of fishing in a small stream.  Tonight I’m going to show some more photos of the same subject.  I took these the other afternoon.  It’s almost certainly the same bird that I photographed previously.  This heron knows a good thing when it sees it!

I made my previous photos in early morning, just at sunrise.  I took this latest group in late afternoon, as the sun was setting.  I was surprised to find the heron in almost exactly the same location as on the previous encounter.  When first it saw me, it craned its neck to get a better view.

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I really like this first photo.  Green Herons nearly always compress their necks into a tight “S” curve so that their heads are close to their bodies.  The extended neck on this bird is about the same length as its body, something that we rarely see.

After checking me out, the heron decided to ignore me and assumed its position in the creek.  These birds are normally very shy around humans and fly when approached.  This one had obviously become quite inured to human presence.  It was indifferent to the fact that I stood only a few feet from it, observing it while it fished.  It began peering intensely at the stream, not moving a muscle.  It’s a pretty amazing experience watching one of these birds fish.  This one remained stock still for several minutes, its head and body frozen.

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Notice the bird’s head position in the second photo.  Its neck is now like a coiled spring.

Suddenly, the bird lunged, moving only its head and neck so fast that my eye couldn’t follow the action.  At that moment its long neck and beak became  critically important tools, as it adroitly snatched a tiny fish from the stream.  As it lunged it uncoiled that long neck to its full length and used its beak with surgical precision.

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It was a demonstration of how this bird had evolved to become a perfect fisherman.  Its special abilities included extraordinary powers of concentration, an ability to hold its body in place without moving for long periods, lightning quick reflexes, and obviously super-acute vision.  Pretty impressive in a bird that is the size of a small chicken.

Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture preferred setting. The first image was shot at ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/1600.  The second and third images were shot at ISO 1000, f6.3 @ 1/250.  In order to be able to shoot the last two images in low light I stabilized my camera and lens by bracing them against a metal bridge railing.

One response to “Special Tools”

  1. tkiiatmindspringcom says :

    Oh my! In the first photo, its neck is longer than its body!

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