Posts Tagged ‘Great Blue Heron


Great Blue Heron: Taking Off






Great Blue Heron in Flight






Enter the Guest of Honor

One of the problems I had with photographing at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge was with so much happening I would be looking the wrong way and not see something I wanted to photograph.  For instance,  I was photographing a Great Blue Heron landing.


After he landed, another bird flew in from the right.  It flew like an Eagle, which I’m always glad for the opportunity to photograph, but it was too far away and I knew the shots wouldn’t turn out well enough.  When I noticed it was flying erratically.  It would stop in mid-air, sort of doing a tail stand.  I remember thinking to myself, What’s wrong with that bird?  Has it forgotten how to fly?  Until, it did one of its tail stands and then dove straight into the water.


Not something an Eagle does.  That’s when I realized I had been watching an Osprey and his erratic flying was due to him looking for fish.  So I decided to photograph and hope for the best.


He emerged with a fish.


All seemed well for the successful Osprey as he flew off with his fish.


Until I noticed another bird enter the area.  Actually, I didn’t notice it.  I heard it.  It sounded like a Sandhill Crane, but not like any Sandhill Crane I had ever heard.  So I stopped photographing the Osprey and looked in the direction of the sound I heard and in an instant I remembered why I was there.


Enter Grus americana in Latin, Whooping Crane to everyone else.  Necedah National Wildlife Refuge is one of two summer homes of this bird.  The other being in Western Canada.  Whooping Cranes are an endangered species.  There are fewer than five hundred of these birds in the wild, and while I wish I had closer shots, these are the best I have.  This is the only Whooping Crane I saw during my two trips into the refuge last week, but it is the reason I went and I was thrilled to see this one.


It landed in this field, which was about a mile from me, or less than two thousand meters but still a long ways away.


A Sandhill Crane watches the larger bird land, while a Great Blue Heron preens itself in the bottom right corner of the photo.


I kind of have a sense of how large this bird is because I know how big the Sandhill Crane is.  Sandhill Cranes, basically, are about three to four feet in height, or 1 to 1.2 meters.  Whopping Cranes can get as large as five feet or 1.5 meters in height.


I remained there for about five hours.  The Whooping Crane settled into the tall grasses and occasionally I saw it poke its head up to see what was going on, while I contented myself with photographing the other birds.


Great Blue Heron: Territoriality


While enjoying the tranquility of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed that Great Blue Herons are very territorial.  The Blue Herons pictured above aren’t flying in unison.  The bird in front happened to land within the other bird’s territory and it is letting the other bird know it isn’t welcome.  I noticed this behavior over and over while observing the birds at the refuge today.



Great Blue Heron at Necedah



Necedah National Wildlife Refuge

I drove over to Necedah Wildlife Refuge, mostly to familiarize myself with the place.  Necedah Wildlife Refuge is a very large area in central Wisconsin set aside for the preservation of natural habitat.  Established in 1939 this is not a park.  You can’t camp here.  You can’t have open fires of any kind.  What you can do here is watch.  What is there to watch?  I had just found my way into the refuge and luckily happened upon the part of the refuge with a very convenient two-story observation tower.  I looked around and decided I’d try to take some landscape pictures, so I pointed my camera at a particular part of the refuge and popped the shot below.


When I clicked the button to take the picture I realized there was a very large bird flying in the center right of the picture.  Even though I am not an expert on birds, I immediately recognized what kind of bird I was looking at.  So I extended the zoom to see if I could get a more focused shot.


At more than a mile away, I didn’t expect all that great of a shot, but it’s good enough to tell it was a Bald Eagle.  There were actually two of them fishing in this area and later I would encounter an adolescent Bald Eagle whose head must have just turned white.  With my eyes open, I began to realize there was an abundance of birds here; Great Blue Herons, Swans, Canadian Geese, Sandhill Cranes, and dozens of smaller birds.


I didn’t recognize this bird right away because it flew with its neck outstretched.  I saw over a dozen Blue Herons, and it seems when they fly over water, they fly with their necks outstretched.


In the photo above are some geese and swans.  All these shots are from at a distance of about a mile  — more than a kilometer, less than two kilometers.  Mostly out of range for my gear, and without a boat, as close as I can legally get.


The Sandhill Cranes were everywhere inside the refuge.  Now to give you some kind of idea about the abundance of wildlife here.  All of these shots were taken within the first five minutes of arriving.


Great Blue Heron: No Cooperation


Having seen a Blue Heron in the same spot on both Friday and Sunday morning, I decided to return on Monday morning with all my long gear.  I lugged a tripod, my camera, the 100x400mm lens, and the 2x converter back to the same spot.  Using this 800mm setup on a tripod, oh I was going to get some great shots.  I setup and I waited for the bird to step out of the reeds.  An hour and a half later, I knew I had been stood up.  So I packed up my gear and dragged it back to the truck.

This part of the park has an observation deck in the middle of the marsh, so I walked out there just to see what was on the marsh.  Guess which bird was sitting at the other end of the marsh, too far away for any decent shots, even with the long gear.  Yep, the Great Blue Heron.

Wild animals will rarely cooperate with our desire for photos.  When this happens, accept it for what it is, a learning experience, and then understand there will be other opportunities to get the photo.  These two shots are from the same shot taken Sunday morning.  I’ve cropped them differently to show you what would have been the difference between a 400mm shot at the top and an 800mm shot at the bottom.


April 2020

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