View 68: Great Blue Heron

A great blue heron takes flight in the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on Friday, April 10, 2009.  Photographed from the Wildlife Drive on the Main Pool right from the drivers seat of my car.

A great blue heron takes flight in the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on Friday, April 10, 2009. Photographed from the Wildlife Drive on the Main Pool right from the driver's seat of my car.

I’ve been watching Great Blue Herons around central New York for over 40 years. In all that time, I’ve never gotten any good photos of one. Sure, I have some of them sleeping, resting, hunting or flying. None are very sharp or close or interesting.

This changed last Friday as I enjoyed a beautiful sunny morning at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. An actively hunting Great Blue Heron wandered to my location taking no mind of my parked car with the Nikon 80-400VR lens extending out the window. I got many, many photos of him standing still or moving slowly as he delicately stepped through the cold water of the marsh. When he looked like he was ready to launch, I was lucky enough to capture his leap into the air trailing water droplets as he moved on to a better fishing spot.

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23 Responses to View 68: Great Blue Heron

  1. Gerry says:

    Oh, Scott, thank you for this wonderful image. It reminds me of an ancient scroll painting. It’s surprising how often luck appears when patience, skill and a prepared mind are there to meet it . . .

    Miss Sadie and I once met a Great Blue Heron as we walked on the beach at dawn. We came around a point and there it was, looking me in the eye. (I am short and it was not.) All of us studied each other for a moment. Miss Sadie did not bark. The heron did not flee. I did not breathe. Finally the great bird selected a last morsel from the shore brunch and stepped into the sky. I was lucky, too. No photo, though.


  2. Julie McLeod says:

    An absolutely wonderful shot! The trail of water drops under the bird’s feet is perfect. I’d say this was worth the 40 year wait. 😉


  3. montucky says:

    What a gorgeous shot that is! I’ve seen them for so many years, sometimes very close but without a camera and have always wished I could get a shot like that.


  4. Barrie says:

    Very nice Scott! I love herons. The water drops look cool. What was your shutter speed?


    • It was still early, just past sunrise so the light wasn’t as strong as I wish I had. This was taken at 160th of a second, f/5.6, ISO 220, EV +1.0 and at the full 400mm focal length of the lens. Which is the equivalent of a 600mm lens in the 35mm world.


  5. rvewong says:

    I’ve been trying to get a shot like that, looks like it won’t be any time soon. Even the water looks great.


  6. yesbuts says:

    Great capture. I just love watching them standing still waiting for a fish to swim in range of their beak


    • I watched this guy do that for a few minutes before he decided to move on to a better spot. He never found anything to go after, darn it! That’s my next challenge, to get a photo of one going after and getting some prey.


  7. giiid says:

    What a great photo, such graceful movement you have captured. I like the water drops in the corner, too.


  8. Laurie says:

    This is such a beautiful shot. The timing was perfect. Excellent.


  9. Anna Surface says:

    That is an absolutely gorgeous capture of the heron in flight with the water droplets. Beautiful feather detail. Wow!


  10. Rico says:

    Wow! Great shot! This looks like a Japanese painting.


  11. These are very hard birds to capture an image of. Great shot.


  12. Great timing ,love the photo…


  13. Beautiful capture Scott, what a wonderful subject to be able to catch, I would love to get a shot like this !!!


  14. Moctezuma says:

    this picture is the BEST EVER.
    i love the great blue heron.


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