Flight of the Great Blue Heron
Whomp...Whomp ...Whomp and then, silence. That was the sound of one of North America's largest birds and it's largest heron. With a wingspan that can span 6 feet plus and a height reaching nearly 5 feet, it soars through the airs like a B-52 Stratofortress.
I had the fortunate pleasure of experiencing constant passes of this soaring spectacle one afternoon at a local County park in our area. Now this park I have frequented often and I have photographed many Great Blue Herons before. But this day was special, what made it so was that it was particularly crowded that day. You're probably wondering, how could a park packed with families, couples strolling, hikers and anglers be a good thing for someone shooting wildlife photographs?
This is exactly how. I set myself up on a corner of the lake that I like to take shots at. The area has a nice natural feel to it for being a man made reservoir. It's a deep "U" shape corner with several trees, logs and cattails along the bank. I always nestle myself right in between two large sets of cattails that gives me a straight shot down the length of the lake. Often this area creates nice framing for the various ducks, cormorants, and red-wing blackbirds chirping on the stalks.
Now this day as I mentioned was very active with visitors and those visitors would be meandering around the lake from both directions, the path sits within 8 feet or so from the bank of the lake. This constant movement was the catalyst for the air show I was about to witness. Remember those water features I mentioned? Well in this case the logs and trees along the bank are what was key and me tucked in between those cattails. As visitors would pass by the Great Blue Heron on either side of the "U" Shaped corner and would be a little too close for comfort for the bird. It would give a great heave of its massive wings and whomp...whomp...whomp...silence and soar. As it soared towards me or aways I was in perfect position to grab some amazing photos. I'm a handheld shooter primarily and the slow glide of this Heron was just perfect so I could track it from side to side.
I am so grateful for these opportunities with and in nature. Even on the most unexpected of busy days which normally puts a damper on an activity that requires some level of stealth, slow movements and quiet. This was one afternoon I will soon not forget.