Update on the Short-eared Owl fledgling I rescued two days ago: The fledgling had extensive tissue damage and a severe compound fracture of its left wing, it was humanely euthanized the day I rescued it. I’m glad it did not starve to death in the field. I want to thank WRCNU for their help with the owl.
Great Blue Heron on a spruce tree – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I went up into a Wasatch Mountain Canyon yesterday morning because I felt like I needed some peace and solitude and I knew that the cooler air would revitalize me too. I also needed to distract myself from thinking about the fate of the Short-eared Owl I had rescued the day before.
There wasn’t a whole lot of bird activity or birds close enough for me to photograph but for me I am not in the field just for the photos I take, sometimes it is about moving slowly through nature and taking it all in. The scenery, the sounds, the smells and the disconnection from the news of the day and all the trappings of human life, I shut it out. Besides, for me bird photography isn’t a race, it is an immersion into the world of birds and nature and I like to savor it.
I’ve been missing my Mom and her company since she left and because we made several trips into this canyon while she was in Utah I was thinking about her as I drove through the canyon. I stopped at a view of the creek that runs through the canyon and on the spur of the moment decided to take a video of the creek with my D810 with my 18-200mm lens attached. I very rarely do videos because I don’t want to bother with a tripod to steady the video but I placed the lens on my photo pool noodle and used it to steady the camera. I was creating the video just for my mom and not for publication or anything.
I was keeping an eye on the LCD screen and looking above the camera at the same time when I saw a Great Blue Heron fly in from the north and land on a conifer tree on the hill across the creek then I stopped the video and started taking photos of the heron on top of the spruce. You can view the video here, it isn’t great but at about the 30 second mark you can see the heron fly in from the right side of the frame.
High elevation Great Blue Heron – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 500, -1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I’ve seen Great Blue Herons in this canyon since I started photographing up there several years ago, it is not just one Great Blue that makes this canyon their home during the breeding season, while my mom and I were up there one day we saw three individual Great Blues as we traveled up the road. I’ve often wondered if the herons were nesting in the canyon and yesterday after I came home I did a little research into how high up Great Blue Herons nest.
On BNA (Bird of North American Online) and BioKids the highest elevation they both mention is 1500 meters in Panama which is a much different and warmer climate than here in the Wasatch Mountains and BNA mentions these herons nesting in British Columbia at just 1100 meters.
I didn’t do an extensive on line search to find the highest elevation that Great Blue Herons have been found breeding and nesting but I may do that later today. These Great Blue Herons at high elevations in Summit County have my curiosity piqued.
Great Blue Heron at more than 6129 feet elevation – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 500, -1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I checked several TOPO maps to find the elevation I was at where I photographed this Great Blue Heron and it is approximately 1868 meters (6129 feet) in elevation which is 368 meters (1207 feet) higher than mentioned by BNA and BioKids for nesting Great Blue Herons.
These are all adult Great Blue Herons I see up in the canyon during the spring and early summer and I’ve seen them roosting in some cottonwoods near a hollow nest to the creek. The herons could be nesting in those trees, I can’t see the backside of those cottonwoods to check for nests. I’ll have to scope them very carefully to see if I can find any nests in them for my own knowledge.
Great Blue Heron perched in top of a spruce tree – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 500, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I’m wondering now if Great Blue Herons here in Utah might already be adapting to climate change by moving higher up into the mountain valleys and canyons that have suitable food and water supplies to breed and nest. I’m guessing it is entirely possible that they are.
So the video I took for my Mom led me down this path, thanks Mom!
Life is good.