Sunday, August 17, 2014

Patience is a Virtue...especially when Hunting!

It’s really interesting to me to experience the evolution, or maturity curve that one finds themselves on, regardless of their pursuit.  You think you’ve arrived, and realize later that you’ve barely begun.  I can remember my first sighting of the Great Blue Heron…wow, what a moment.  I know where it was, and the circumstances of that impressionable first moment.  I got a picture that I thought was one of those file-it-away and move on moments.  Later I realized (duh) that these things have to eat, and there are some great photographic opportunities that were ahead on that maturity curve.

Learning to recognize the hunting habits was a big step in that direction.  I began to “hunt” myself in search of a Great Blue Heron catching a fish.  I was so thrilled when I found that moment, and was fortunate to create a photograph of it.  Surely this was the moment I had been seeking…the holy grail if you will of Great Blue Heron photographs.  But wait…I had read that they also feed on lizards and amphibians—really, there’s more??

So you can image that absolute thrill earlier this week when I happen upon a Great Blue Heron just after his conquest of a frog!  I almost couldn’t believe my luck when I took the shot and then zoomed in on my camera display to see what was in its mouth!  I recognized immediately the possibilities, but also recognized that I was on the wrong side of the action (from the sun).  I knew there was a choice to make…stay put and maximize my shooting, or quickly hike back to the trail, around the trees, back down to lake on the other side, and of course risk missing the rest of the action.  I could simply walk along the water’s edge for fear of scaring the Great Blue Heron away.  So after I had what I thought were the best of the shots from that angle, I hedged my bet and began to move “upstream” of the sun. 
As luck would have it (certainly was on my side that day), I was just in time to see it finish the washing ritual, wherein the Great Blue Heron repeatedly dips the frog into the water to wash it off.  

But now I’m on to it.  No sooner is this frog swallowed, that the Great Blue Heron returns to a more central area of the lake to begin its hunting again.  I have to tell you that I’m not really that patient as a photographer, choosing instead to constantly move along, hiking around wherever I happen to be photographing.  But feeling like I had just discovered gold, I knew what the Great Blue Heron was up to, and I was going to get in on more of the action.  It was a good thing I was by myself, because after standing in the sun, poised for the next capture, and having 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes…go by, anyone else (and I was tempted) would have said “let’s  just move along, nothing going on here”.  By I was by myself, and I had the time, although I wasn’t sure how much more patience I had.  Turns out that after 35 minutes (yes, I was looking at my watch), the Great Blue Heron finally made its lightning fast striking move, and no sooner had it recoiled, that it turned and took flight.  I wasn’t even sure it had found anything, but was happy just to get some bird-in-flight shots.  Once it stopped, I could tell that it had in fact caught something…and yes, another frog!!

This time not only am on the right side for the sun, but I witness the Great Blue Heron making a move to get a more favorable grasp on the frog.  In an amazing flip and grab move, the frog goes airborne, and the Great Blue Heron snatches it back again…wow!  It once again goes through the repeated washing cycle, and finally works it up the beak until it makes one final swallowing move.

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