Immature Little Blue Heron

Dwarfed by the reeds and grasses growing at the edge of the marsh this immature Little Blue Heron squawked his way to a landing then seemed unsure what to do.

Young Little Blue Heron
Young Little Blue Heron

His mottled coloration made him  stand out nicely from the green background as he took a stroll along the irrigation canal bordering the marsh.

Young Little Blue Heron
Young Little Blue Heron

Click on either photo for larger view.

 

A Ducky Surprise

This was one of those times that I took the first shot not knowing just what that “blob” was until I had zoomed in on the screen. The kind that sometimes turns out to be a piece of trash or a stick. Or three Wood Ducks whose bodies appeared disjointed from my angle.

Wood Duck Family
Wood Duck Family

Fortunately, I was able to work my way a little closer and the three stayed put while I took a family portrait.

Wood Duck Family
Wood Duck Family

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Green Herons

Several Green Herons were sitting around a pond with the early morning sun highlighting their beautiful colors. The first one had the most elegant surroundings, dripping with Spanish Moss.

Green Heron
Green Heron

This one was concentrating for hunting, but never left the branch.

Green Heron
Green Heron

This perch didn’t look like much to me, rather high off the water for fishing but this Heron defended it from another who wanted to at least share the space.

Green Heron
Green Heron

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher…

…I think. Or maybe a Vireo.

It looks a lot like the Gnatchatcher drawing in the Peterson Field Guide and less like the photos on Cornell’s All About Birds website. The eye ring points to a Vireo.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Either way, it was a perky energetic bird that mostly stayed hidden by branches of the trees he was inspecting. A dead limb let me get a few clear shots.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

A flash of the tail and he was gone.

I’ve been calling these small birds “Song Birds” but have learned while trying to identify this bird that as members of the order Passeriformes they are “Perching Birds.” The arrangement of their toes, with three pointing forward and one backward, facilitates perching. Somehow I’ve been skipping over that in my bird ID activities.

 

Juvenile Little Blue Heron Portraits

Here is a selection of juvenile Little Blue Heron portraits with nature provided backgrounds. You can just start to see some color in the tips of the tail feathers.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron
Juvenile Little Blue Heron

The pin head feathers aren’t as prominent as the chicks get older, although in the right light and humidity conditions they still stand up.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron
Juvenile Little Blue Heron

I liked the way the pine branched framed the back of this one and was wishing I was a foot or so taller to line it up better.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron
Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Click on any photo for larger view.

Close Up Insects

This was my first outdoor try shooting insects with Macro Lenses on my 18-200mm lens.  There is nothing like actually doing something to find out the challenges: a slight breeze, flower stems that swayed when even the smallest insect landed on them, following the insect through the view finder at full zoom…

Dragon Fly Closeup
Dragon Fly Closeup

…the shock of seeing this beast when you were expecting a bee!

Insect Closeup
Insect Closeup

I have no idea what this is but it was huge. Appearing to hang on for dear life, it didn’t appear to show any other interest in the flower.

Insect Closeup
Insect Closeup

This bee appears similar to the one featured in my post “A Yellow Fur Jacket” at the end of May, this time on a prettier flower.  There were many buzzing around and  generally did not stay put long enough for me to focus and shoot.

Insect Closeup
Insect Closeup

Overall I was pleased. A second try last week didn’t work out as well with the insects even less cooperative on a day that was too hot to be trying something new.

Click on any photo for larger view.

Wood Stork in Flight

I’ve not had much success getting shots of the larger wading birds in flight with any context even with all the recent photography opportunities nearby. They are so big it’s hard to get a good angle that includes so much as a tree.

Wood stork in Flight
Wood stork in Flight

These photographs of a Wood Stork do give a sense of their wingspan, even with nothing else but the sky in the photos. And their subtle green color is shown off when the wings are flapping “down.”

Wood stork in Flight
Wood stork in Flight

Lazy Hot Day

It was a hot afternoon at the swamp and now that nesting season is about over the Great Egrets that are still around don’t have much to do when they aren’t feeding.

Scratch in itch, if you can reach it with your beak.

Great Egret
Great Egret

Or go the traditional route, showing off a one-legged stance.

Great Egret
Great Egret

Itch satisfied let’s survey the swamp.

Great Egret
Great Egret

Or catch a few ZZZs.

Great Egret
Great Egret

These dead tree branches add nice interest to the photographs, but the sky was dull. I used some filters in Nik’s Color Efex Pro to add some depth to the background.

Little Blue Heron Flight School

Adult Little Blue Herons teach their young to fly by encouraging them, sometimes with food, out to the end of a branch. The adult then takes off, hoping the juvenile will follow.

Little Blue Heron Flight School
Little Blue Heron Flight School

Although the juveniles have been venturing onto the branches for a couple of weeks, In the beginning actually lifting off is a tough sell.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron Flight School
Juvenile Little Blue Heron Flight School

Many of the families have three or four chicks and the sibling competition seems to spur them on. This fellow appeared to be an only child, or maybe the others have already moved on.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron Flight School
Juvenile Little Blue Heron Flight School

“I don’t know if I can do this!”

Juvenile Little Blue Heron Flight School
Juvenile Little Blue Heron Flight School

Success! It was a short hop but he made it and landed successfully.