Stalking the Mudflats and Shallows – Part 1

Earlier in the week I spotted a Great Egret feeding in the shallow water of a partially drained pond. This was my first sighting in years so I stopped and set up as best I could without pushing it off the water…beyond the effective range of my camera.  I got some mediocre “insurance” shots but had more fun watching shorebirds probing the mudflats in front of me and, across the pond, a Kingfisher diving for small fish in the shallow water.

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I didn’t expect to see the Egret again so returned the following morning and set up to try my luck with a diving Kingfisher. This post is the first of two that summarize that adventure.

Soon after I positioned myself in a ground blind near water’s edge, the Great Egret flew in and landed on a log perch in the middle of a pool of shallow water. I was so intent on capturing the moment that I failed to see a family of three Great Blue Herons glide in until they were on top of me.

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After things settled down, the Herons, like the Egret, started feeding in the shallow water. This was the first time I’ve seen what happens when Herons wade in deep, soft mud – it’s a show that has to be shared!

When they got stuck in the muddy bottom, which was often, they simply flapped their wings to pull themselves up and free, then resumed feeding in their classic stalking manner.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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14 thoughts on “Stalking the Mudflats and Shallows – Part 1

  1. These are some of your best Nick! I just saw a great egret right off the Thruway up near Montezuma. So wish I could have pulled over and watched it more!

    • Thanks Charlie. One of the things I like about a blog is the historical record it provides. When I view my older posts, I realize that most of my personal favorites have a common thread – there was an element of surprise, and pure joy in being able to capture it.

  2. Really nice work, Nick! Wonderful photos.

    Those GBH fledglings are very very young. You can tell from their baby feathers on their caps. Were these shots taken just this week? Theyre gorgeous. It’s pretty late (around here at least) for fledglings just getting started out of the nest. If they’ve only just recently fledged and it’s now the very end of August, they’re going to need a lot of space with no human presence for the next weeks to master self-feeding, etc etc.

    If they fledged last month, though, the concern wouldn’t be as great.

    Again, fabulous photos!

    • Great! I was hoping that you’d “weigh in” with your expert opinions on those posts. All of those pictures were taken on August 23 here in central New York. I can’t say whether the developmental stage of the youngsters is normal or late because prior to my recent retirement I was too busy with the job to sit for hours in a blind! The wetland is on private property and in close proximity to several houses and a paved road. However, it is somewhat isolated by topography and dense vegetation and is rarely used/invaded by people. My presence was very “Heron-like”, with minimal disturbance, and I also plan to avoid intimate association with the area from this point on. Thanks for the feedback!

      • Thanks, Nick! I wish everyone had your sensitivity towards the babies and respect for nature. They did, indeed, fledge late for the northeast, but if the autumn is mild, they stand a very good chance. Our late-bloomers from 2012 fledged in early August here in Massachusetts, and people we worried so we avoided their feeding groung areas and things worked out well. They both survived both autumn and spring migrations. Good luck! And again, wonderful photos, well-done.

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