Tricolored Heron in Breeding Plumage

by | May 2, 2010

Last month I was in the Big Cypress National Preserve looking for new material for – particularly birds in breeding plumage when I spotted this amazing tricolored heron on the side of the road. It was in the most resplendent of breeding colors. Bright blue beak and face,  deep blood-red eyes, violet and blue-gray plumage, completed with snowy white plumes at the back of its crown. Just gorgeous!

~click to enlarge photo~

Tricolored Heron in Breeding Plumage

After spotting it at about 60 mph on the highway, I pulled to the far side of the road and walked back on the opposite side of the road as the heron, as to not spook it. Crossing the road, it was still there hunting fish in the canal paralleling  the highway. It was rather windy, and bright, so I knew I’d have to shoot fast, and approach with the light coming from the side, as I was using a circular polarized filter. This filter is used to cut harsh reflections and generally help balance the light and colors, very handy as the bright sunlight was reflecting off the water and back onto the heron.

I sat down on the side of the canal and got ready to go to work. Any photographer who photographs a lot of birds can tell you all about the “scoot & shoot” – this is where you take your first clean shot, look for the reaction of the subject you are photographing, then you scoot a little closer, recompose, then shoot again. The idea is to get close enough to get your natural scene, then fill the frame with the subject, get some better close-ups, and hopefully that lucky clear headshot before you withdraw to leave the bird as undisturbed as possible. The key is patience and watching for sudden alert movement or reaction in response to your movement or actions. After about 20 minutes of scooting and shooting – I got exactly what I wanted, and left the wary tricolored heron to continue fishing undisturbed. The idea is to be as unobtrusive as possible, and it’s not too difficult when you have the right zoom lens.


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