Great Blue Heron Winter Delight

Great Blue Heron next to a creekGreat Blue Heron next to a creek  – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I spotted this Great Blue Heron yesterday at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area and loved the setting with the fresh snow blanketing the steep creek bank. I also thought the shadow of the bird was great and if you look very closely behind the bird you can see where the wingtips of the heron brushed the pristine snow when it landed in this location.

Great Blue Heron Shadow PlayGreat Blue Heron “Bill Puppet” – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 221mm, natural light

 This sort of reminds me of playing “Hand Puppet” when I was a child because of the heron’s shadow. This was one of the most cooperative Great Blue Herons I have come across at Farmington Bay WMA.

The images that follow are in sequential order and show the Great Blue Heron lifting off from this location and moving about 50 feet to the west. (techs to follow the images)

Great Blue Heron crouching for lift offGreat Blue Heron crouching for lift off

Great Blue Heron with wings up and flying snowGreat Blue Heron with wings up and flying snow

Great Blue Heron lifting off from the snowGreat Blue Heron lifting off from the snow

The Great Blue Heron and its shadow on the snowThe Great Blue Heron and its shadow on the snow

Great Blue Heron in flight over the icy covered creekGreat Blue Heron in flight over the icy covered creek

A snow covered hill and a Great Blue HeronA snow covered hill and a Great Blue Heron

A Great Blue Heron flying towards open waterA Great Blue Heron flying towards open water

A snowy canvas and a Great Blue HeronA snowy canvas and a Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron flying over the snowGreat Blue Heron flying over the snow

Great Blue Heron Flight 5Great Blue Heron on a clear winter day

All of these images were taken with these techs – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 200mm, natural light, the shutter speed for the last image was 1/3200.

The photos taken sequentially after these unfortunately had grasses in front of the heron that would have been distracting as the bird landed in the new location. Those landing shots would have been wonderful without the obstructions.

The snow made a lovely background for these heron images but not so much for those of us using the roads at Farmington Bay WMA yesterday. There was a duck hunting boat that slid off the road at a turn, I bet they had to use a winch to pull the boat out from the back to prevent the heavy rear end of it from sliding further down the steep shoulder.  Those duck hunters didn’t look happy.

The roads were slippery, the snow was deep. I would not recommend going there for a few days unless you have a high clearance vehicle and 4 wheel drive.

Mia

41 Comments

  1. Tami Vogel (@_CabinGirl) January 14, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Lovely photos, Mia. I really like the bird’s crisp shadow on the snow.

  2. Elijah Goodwin January 14, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Love the snowy background, although the GBH doesn’t seem to be enjoying it as much. 😎

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:58 am

      I’m sure the Great Blue was a touch uncomfy Elijah, I saw this bird yesterday hunched down and shivering. And it is colder this morning than yesterday. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Jane Chesebrough January 13, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Like the shadows on the snow, especially the second one.Was it different to get the right exposure?

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:57 am

      Hi Jane, I did a few test shots and checked my histogram on the camera to get the exposures right, that helps a lot. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Loekie January 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Mia as usual fantastic, wonderful pictures and I love how you were able to shoot the heron in take off motions. I can understand that every time you get those pictures you’re really proud and you must be. Wonderful.

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:56 am

      Thank you Loekie, this bird was a great subject.

  5. Bob Bushell January 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Fantastic, in flight. You caught it, brilliant.

  6. Syl Lobato January 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Way to go..the snow is perfect, the shadows are marvelous and the heron is magnificent. Love them all.

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:55 am

      Thanks Syl, I could tell these images were going to be wonderful because of the bird, the light and the snow.

  7. Merrill Ann Gonzales January 13, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Dear Mia, What extraordinary photos! I love the way you’ve used the shadow to repeat shapes of the dynamics of the bird’s flight. You take my breath away! Wonderful.

  8. Laurence Butler January 13, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Very cool Mia, a Great Blue in snow is not something we get to see much in Phoenix. They’re tough birds!

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:55 am

      Laurence, I could send you about 6 inches of snow for Phoenix, we have plenty to spare! 😉 Thanks for commenting.

  9. Sherry in MT January 13, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Speachless! Perfect lighting, fabulous shadow and well I’m a heron junkie so you can’t go wrong there. Amazing (and cold)!

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:54 am

      Sherry, I remember you being a heron junkie from your blog and thought you might enjoy these images. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Carol MATTINGLY January 13, 2013 at 8:42 am

    You got him perfectly. Can you some my way?

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:53 am

      I’d love to send some your way Carol!

  11. Bill Hutson January 13, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Glad you got to get out before the inversion sets back in. Wonderful series you captured Mia.

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:53 am

      Thanks Bill, I think the inversion is due back around Wednesday 🙁 I could live without them.

  12. judy watson January 13, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Fantastic!

  13. Bob Zeller January 13, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Stunning images, Mia. I love the snow background. Those herons pop.

  14. Dave Sparks January 13, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Wonderful flight shots – great looks at the feather arrangement from under and on top of the wings.
    An interesting contrast to the backgrounds in the shots I took two days ago at Viera Wetlands in sunny Florida where the birds are actively adding twigs to their nests in the palm trees. The snow really makes the gray of the heron pop off the page.

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:47 am

      Thanks Dave, I liked how these showed the feather definition too. You know, I always get tickled when comparing my Florida images of these herons to my Utah images, sugar white sand in FL and snow in UT!

  15. Susan January 13, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Wow, what delightful, fantastic images. I love the shadow of the bird in the series

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:38 am

      Thanks Susan, I love the shadows too.

  16. kim January 13, 2013 at 6:24 am

    These images are exquisite Mia. I’d love to talk to you one day about your settings, you’ve got such fast shutter speeds – ahh I’m thinking it must be really bright in snowy conditions when the sun is shining, I’ve been imagining it as dark. Maybe that’s the answer …

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:38 am

      Kim, thanks much for your comments on these images. I tend to try to keep my shutter speed high because birds are so very active.

  17. Mia Anstine January 13, 2013 at 5:50 am

    BEAUTIFUL!!!!

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:37 am

      Thank you Mia! And thanks for your email about the image thieves too.

  18. M. Firpi January 13, 2013 at 5:47 am

    What a champ, I love it! This was my “king” poser when I was in Florida, always giving me the best poses ever imaginable. You caught it in all its glory!!!

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:35 am

      Maria, they are “posers” in Florida, so used to people that they don’t fly off straight away like they do here. Thanks for your comment.

  19. Eileen January 13, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Awesome shots of the GB Heron. I like the shadows, cool captures.

    • Mia McPherson January 14, 2013 at 5:34 am

      Thanks Eileen! It was fun photographing this heron.

Comments are closed.