Hungry Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron stalking a Ghost CrabYellow-crowned Night Heron stalking a Ghost Crab – D200, handheld, f8, 1/1000, ISO 200, 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light

Adrian Burke and I were photographing together one morning last year on the Gulf coast of  Florida when we came across this Yellow-crowned Night Heron stalking a Ghost Crab.  Adrian and I laid down on our stomachs in the sand and got ready for some action.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron catching a Ghost CrabGotcha! – Yellow-crowned Night Heron catches the Ghost Crab –  D200, handheld, f8, 1/1000, ISO 200, 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light

It didn’t take long for the Yellow-crowned Night Heron to grab the crab and send the sand flying. This was a fairly large crab and it seemed to be trying to put up a fight.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron with a Ghost Crab on its billThe Ghost Crab tries to fight back – D200, handheld, f8, 1/800, ISO 200, 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light

It was difficult not crack up when through my viewfinder I saw the crab grab the heron’s bill and possibly its tongue. The heron didn’t look too pleased either.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron tearing up a Ghost CrabYellow-crowned Night Heron tearing up a Ghost Crab – D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 200, 70-300mm at 220mm, natural light

The Yellow-crowned Night heron tore the pincers off of the Ghost Crab first and then proceeded to remove the rest of the crab’s legs.  Our presence; still laying flat on the sand, didn’t seem to bother the heron at all.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron with Ghost CrabYellow-crowned Heron with Ghost Crab – D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 200, 70-300mm at 155mm, natural light

A couple of beach walkers walked by the heron and it moved closer to where we were laying in the sand. The beach walkers didn’t seem to notice the heron or for that matter the two crazy, sand-crawling  photographers.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron with nearly devoured Ghost CrabYellow-crowned Night Heron with a mid-morning snack – D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1500, ISO 200, 70-300mm at 195mm, natural light

It didn’t take much longer for the heron to finish devouring the crab. The heron still must have been hungry because it started stalking yet another Ghost Crab in the mangroves before we could even sit up.

Some times the Ghost Crab is the predator and some times it is the prey as it was for this Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

Mia

This Yellow-crowned Night Heron has what is called a “blown eye”, the pupil is irregularly shaped. I have seen this same eye problem in American Oystercatchers, some of the herons and in Owls. It does not appear to affect the ability to hunt for food.

3 Comments

  1. […] during the day as they are at night. You can see one catch and stuff itself with a Ghost Crab here in broad […]

  2. […] during the day as they are at night. You can see one catch and stuff itself with a Ghost Crab here in broad […]

  3. Rich Ditch August 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I’m surprised by the size of the crab – I never realized that someone (or some heron) could find any that large on the beach.

    A fine series of shots that shows the value and image quality of a shorter zoom for close birds.

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