This Great Blue Heron at Blackwater Refuge caught this big fish, and was cooperative and let me watch him at work.
This guy was located along the Wildlife Drive at the start of the 3rd/last section. There is a spot where water drains out of the embankment area there, and heron will wait patiently for fish to come through it. This morning I drove up to the spot, hoping a bird would be there.
-click for more-
To pull off an encounter like this at Blackwater the trick is to move slowly and NOT get out of the car. The heron was aware of my presence for sure, and I just managed to stay on the side of not bothering him. I watched for about 20 minutes right at sunrise. Earlier he caught a much smaller fish and gulped it down quickly. Then a short time later he got this large fish. He brought it to land and tried to kill it by poking at it while it was on the rocks. That process took more than 5 minutes. Then it spent another couple of minutes getting the fish in to position to attempt to swallow it. All the while I took lots of images, and made every attempt to not get excited or move too quickly - and scare him away. It worked out pretty well and the heron was comfortable enough to work on his meal right in front of me from start to end. The above photo was towards that end, and he seemed to almost face me show off his prize, it was cool.
Here is a photo from right after the catch where the fish was still kicking. The slow shutter speed shows some of the fight - since the sun was not over the horizon and trees enough to provide proper lighting.
I go to Blackwater Refuge often, and almost every visit begins around sunrise for me. I've never been disappointed with a visit, and would recommend an early-in-the-day visit to all...
Wednesday, June 2, 2010