Merritt Island, Florida
Out On A Reed
Photograph - Photography
The habitat of the Green Heron is small wetlands in low-lying areas. The species is most conspicuous during dusk and dawn, and if anything these birds are nocturnal rather than diurnal, preferring to retreat to sheltered areas in daytime. They feed actively during the day, however, if hungry or povisioning young. Shore living individuals adapt to the rhythm of the tides. They mainly eat small fish, frogs and aquatic arthropods, but may take any inverbrate or vertebrate prey they can catch, including such animals like leeces and mice. Green Herons are intolerant of other birds – including conspecific – when feeding and are not seen to forage in groups. They typically stand still on shore or in shallow water or perch upon branches and await prey. Sometimes they drop food, insects, or other small objects on the water's surface to attract fish, making them one of the few known tool-using species. This feeding method has led some to title the green and closely related Striated Heron as among the world's most intelligent birds.
In this particular shot, the green heron was using this very method of fishing. I had never actually watched it before. I crawled on my belly very slowly towards it as it fished in the shallow shore of a small lake. It looked at me from time to time but allowed me to watch as long as I remained lying on the ground. I have found them to be usually pretty shy, so this was quite thrilling. I took many photos of it fishing in the setting sun.
I was surprised to see it fly up to the reeds and grab a bit of grass. It dropped it into the water. Then it flew/dropped down to the surface with a tiny fish. It extended it's ruddy neck and swallowed before retracting his neck again.
All this happened in the blink of an eye. I watched and photographed it for a long time quite sure that they wouldn't be in focus. Because of the low light, I used a slow iso.
Fortunately, I was delighted that I managed to get many pleasing shots. I have already done a painting of one but am excitedly considering another one. They are so very pretty, as you can see.
February 15th, 2013
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