We Now Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Great Blue Heron Programming – Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

The bass boat revved its engine as the three fishermen cut across in front of my kayak. They had noticed the same thing I did, the solitary heron plying the waters from a submergd tangle of branches. A fishing heron means only one thing – fish – and to the men in the bass tournament that morning, fish meant only one thing – prize money, big money. As they swerved towards the eastern shore, I wondered: would they flush the heron before I got to shore?

Intermediate egret fishing intently.

Egret fishing intently.

It had been three days since I had sighted a great blue heron on the lake; not unprecedented, they sometimes hide for a bit, and it is August after all – i suppose even the birds are entitled to some carefree days away from the routine.

Still, I wanted to see which heron was the one on the shore before the fishermen chased it off. There are three adult great blues from prior years yet unaccounted for so far this year, and I was feeling anxious to identify this one. There had been four, but I found one in a small pond a few weeks earlier. (See Artists and Models.)

As both the bass boat and I made trees on our way closer to the shore, my thoughts turned to the technical – how to compensate for the sun’s glare on the heron? I’m not sure what kind of gear Vladimir Brezina of Wind Against Current uses for the boat-based photographs he takes of his outings with Johna Till Johnson, but mine is not high-end, expensive gear because the risk of immersion is too great. (I’ve only soaked one camera, when swamped by a five-foot wake, and once was enough for me, thank you very much.)

Consequently, my lens is slow, but it serves me well except in extreme sun and glare, and as I checked out the heron on the shore with my naked eye as I drew closer, it looked like the glare was definitely going to be a problem. The photos wouldn’t have any artistic merit, but maybe they could at least be useful for identifying the specific bird. Discerning which heron it was actually was the more important consideration.

Then it struck me: wait a minute, there can’t be any glare, the sky was completely overcast.

That was no glare.

And that was no great blue heron.

The bird was entirely white.

And not a swan.

It was an egret, the first-ever I’ve seen on this lake.

I love “first-evers” like that.

Time will tell if my gear is up to the challenge of photographing egrets on a sunny day. Time will tell if the egret even sticks around at this lake, or if it moves on or back to its usual home.

I’ve been photographing herons for so long that I know their anatomy well, where to focus and under what kind of conditions, but egrets are uncharted waters. Because they’re monochromatic, the little anatomical markers I know so well on great blues are much more subtle on egrets.

Judy at Janthina Images is a magician when it comes to egret photography. Phil of Phil Lanoue Photography is a maestro of creatures in the wonderland of his marsh. Bob of Texas Tweeties by Bob Zeller shoots egrets and herons and more with exceptional clarity, as does Victor at Rakmil Photography. Plus, Mike of Mike Powell Photography recently posted a very lovely flying egret. David of David Alaniz Photography also has some stunning egret photos on his blog. Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles does outstanding work with egrets, too, especially her Wings of White egret in breeding plumage, plus her lovely egret eggs.

(I’m sure I’ve overlooked many fine egret photographers. If you’re one of them, please reply via comments here with a link to one of your egret photos.)

Now that I’ve had my first-ever sessions with an egret, I bow even more deeply to them both.

Or rather to all of them – Judy, Phil, Bob, Victor, Mike AND the egret.


Thanks to Sheri Bigelow and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree nudge.


(This took place August 18-19, 2013)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Posted on August 20, 2013, in Art, Bird photography, daily prompt, Egret, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Challenge, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. wonderful capture of the egret… What a joy to see a new visitor to your area.

  2. So far, any egrets I’ve tried to shoot around here, all I get are their rear ends in flight as they seem to be exceptionally skittish. Still trying though. Then again there are fewer of them in the summer. I have to wait for winter when the pastures flood.

    • Sorry to hear that, but I’m thinking that being skittish is good for their long-term survival. Plus, you have that stunning coastline there, which compensates for shy, elusive birdies, I think!

  3. Beautiful, gorgeous picture of the Great Egret, Babs. I love it that you caught the action. Well done. 🙂
    And thanks for the shout-out. It is appreciated. 🙂

  4. We love the snowies! There’s a rookery of them on the Hutchinson River near City Island, and many in the Marshlands Conservancy (Rye). Where were you kayaking? Sorry… we are fuzzy on your whereabouts. Nice post! 🙂

    • Wonderful that you have a rookery and lots of egrets there,that’s cool. I’m in the Charles River Watershed area of Eastern Massachusetts, btw. Thanks for your kind words!

  5. Terrific shot of the elegant great egret!
    Thanks very much for thinking of me and including me in our list I greatly appreciate it!

    • You’re welcome, Phil, glad to have included you, and thanks for the kind compliment. Also, just today I noticed your shot of the spoonbill grabbing the aligator’s tail. Yikes, what a shot!

  6. Wonderful shot. I am blessed to have an abundance of Great Egrets at the marsh where I do a lot of shooting. On occasion I even see one at relatively close range. My favorite shot was from this spring, when the egret was in breeding plumage. You can see it here. (http://michaelqpowell.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/return-of-the-egret/). Thanks for the mention, though I am humbled to be included with such awesome photographers like Phil Lanoue.

    • Thanks, Mike, and thanks for the link to your gorgeous egret in breeding plumage – the word “beautiful” is inadequate for describing their breeding plumes, no?

  7. Stunning shot… beautiful Egret !

  8. So glad you had the chance to get your great egret shot!! Amazing we have these glorious creatures to marvel at!! I must offer a big thank you for the ‘magician’ thing!! Gotta say I was home sick when I saw it, and it really made my day!! And, Phil is a maestro..he really captures all the beautiful notes of the life of the swamp!! Check out his newest egret pics.

    • You’re welcome, Judy, hope you’re feeling better. I have to say I almost called you a “sorceress” instead of magician when it comes to the egrets. It seems like you “conjure” up those images!

      • LOL! I am kind of into magic and sorcery lately too. I read Brian Bixby’s stories at sillyverse.com and also another crimsonprose.wordpress.com. I suppose that the true magic is the gift of mother earth, I can only conjure up my interpretation!! 🙂

  9. Hey Babsje! Egrets are indeed a challenge – usually spot-meter on them for best results (altho I hear you on the soaking – I ruined a nice poin-and-shoot that way). I’ve posted many egrets but one of my favorites is here http://travelsandtrifles.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/wild-weekly-photo-challenge-lost-in-the-details/ . enjoy!

    • Thanks for the link Tina, the egret AND the egg photo are gorgeous. This link predates my joining WordPress and I’m sorry I wasn’t aware of your egrets, so thanks for pointing me in their direction, In terms of soaking electronics, the first time, my smartphone drowned but I saved the Canon DSLR. The second time, I saved the iPad and smartphone BUT the Canon DSLR got soaked. I was able to resurrect it (for the most part, not entirely) by bathing it in dry brown rIce for two days ( wrapped in paper towels to protect it from the rice dust, of course ). So, I was pretty lucky, though some functions don’t work right, but I’ve compensated. Thanks again for your link!

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge – Carefree | Joe's Musings

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