Tuesday, April 19, 2011
CRANE UPDATE PLUS "YOU HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR ME, OFFICER??" OH OH
Less than an hour after I awoke, I headed out to the ponds with the nests. When I arrived, I went right to the pond with the crane's nest. The good news is that there was not much going on. One of the parents was sitting on the eggs keeping the incubation period moving along. The island was even bigger than the other day but still not as big as before the flood. The rain we had yesterday didn't last that long and did not appear to raise the water level at all. Here are a few images I took.
Then I went over to the pond with the heron's nest. As I approached it, I saw one of the heron adults fishing on the far shore line. I set up my camera and waited. It is amazing how long they will stay frozen in one spot before attempting to spear their prey. This is a sequence of their technique. You really need to have a fast lens to capture this. My speeds on these shots were between 1600-2000th of a second. You need that speed to catch a stop action image.
You can see how it stays completely still waiting for the right moment to strike.
You can see the fish in its bill as it walks away from the water.
In the last two images, you can see it walk up on the lawn with its catch firmly in its bill. In the last image, look at its throat. See how extended it is compared to the images before he catches the fish. That's the whole fish being swallowed. Click on the image to see a larger version of the throat being stretched.
I caught one more sequence but this time it either didn't catch its target or it was small enough to swallow on the way up from the water. Notice how its neck is in a s shape curve allowing it to generate speed as it launches it' bill at the prey.
This sequence took place in the shade and you can see the different color balance in the images compared to the last images taken in the sun. After this attempt, it walked back up on the lawn a few feet. I kept my lens on it because I had an idea it was getting ready to fly. When it did, I was ready and I captured one of my favorite images of a heron flying. In all honesty, I don't have to tell you this was one of a four image sequence. The others were either not sharp or was missing part of the heron, like his body lol. But I did capture this one image that made the whole morning a success.
I decided to head back home and packed my gear in the back seat. I then saw one of our community security SUVs pull up behind me. The officer was inside waving me back to the sidewalk. The officer exited her vehicle and started walking over to me. She said, "We have been looking for you. We have some residents complaining about you taking pictures of their houses."
I quickly explained that I was taking pictures of both the herons and the cranes and not people's houses. I explained that I was also a resident and showed her my driver's license with my address on it. She called the information into her dispatch and explained what I was doing. She was very nice and while smiling explained that some people thought I was trying to see inside their windows. Laughing, I told her that the only things I was interested in was the birds!!! ("The birds and only the birds, Officer") I explained that we had just moved in and how much we enjoyed living here. She then asked for a business card saying that she knew of an eagle's nest and would check to see if it was still there and would call me if it was. All in all, it was a very pleasant encounter with a very nice officer. I'm glad to see that our security force is both diligent and very polite.
I will end this day's post with an image showing the young herons. You can see how much they have grown in the three weeks since I have been documenting their lives.
Posted by Jim Brandano at 1:49 PM