At Water’s Edge: Great Blue Herons

Lately I’ve been visiting nearby wetlands in the morning, before chores (prior to getting serious about photography, I worked in the cool of the morning – much smarter, but also much less interesting!). I’ve had some good sightings which I must share via several posts.


Bullfrog on lily pad

Yesterday was my third visit to a tiny pond bordered by a cattail marsh to observe and photograph a family of Moorhens. Sitting in muck at water’s edge, partially concealed by vegetation, I was immersed in the moment and unaware of what was going on beyond the viewfinder. At some point I lowered the camera to look around and discovered a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) perched atop a snag, 50 or 60 meters in front of me. I took some portrait shots (labeled bird #1), then captured a breath-taking sequence that I have presented in a gallery.


Great Blue Heron, adult (bird #1)


Great Blue Heron, adult (bird #1)


Great Blue Heron, adult (bird #1)

While intensely focused on the perched heron, my viewfinder was suddenly and unexpectedly filled with a large bird with huge, dark wings. Because of my limited field of view, I had no idea what was happening as I pulled the trigger. The event was over in three seconds. Only when the mystery bird flew to a nearby perch did I realize that it too was a Great Blue Heron, an immature bird (bird #2).

The gallery shows the the arrival and departure of the immature heron, the response of the perched adult, and the immature bird pausing briefly on a nearby snag before leaving.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

12 thoughts on “At Water’s Edge: Great Blue Herons

  1. Bird number 1 is in the start of a territorial display posture, raising the back feathers, and not asubmissive postire. Bird number 2 is an immature heron – there are a couple of signs: in the photo of it standing on the upright log with raised cap feathers, the cap feathers would be white in an adult, the neck is lacking the longer adult feathers, and the whitish patches on the leading edge of the wing look more white than those of an adult. BUT maybe I misinterpreted which bird you considered number 1 and number 2? Regardless of which one is which, really wonderful sequence you filmed. 🙂

    • Thank you! In my excitement and haste to publish, I got sloppy and failed to thoroughly analyze and interpret the photos. I’ll edit as necessary. Glad you took the time to view and comment.

      • Hi Nick – thanks! I’m always pleased when anyone new to herons gets excited about them, they are so magnificent!

  2. Amazing photos as always. The flying heron action is something I have now experienced, thanks to your photos.

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