A few hours at the heronry.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Saturday – 11th June: Sunshine streaming through my bedroom curtains encouraged me out of bed early this morning. I had intended to have a lie-in today, but this morning would be an ideal time to visit the heronry. Those chicks will be basking in the early morning sunshine, and the conditions will be just right for heronry photography. The only problem is that I didn’t pack the necessary kit last night, which I would have done if I had planned this outing. Anyway, it didn’t take me long to get my stuff together, but there is usually one or two pieces of kit I am likely to forget in situations similar this. As it happens, though, I managed to remember and pack all the important bits and pieces I will need, in my rucksack: a pleasant surprise, as it turned out.

Out of sight of the herons, I slipped-on my mesh net balaclava, cape and gloves, fitted my camera onto its tripod and draped a net over them, too, and slowly moved to my shooting post, which was 55 metres east of the heronry.

Immediately, I could see six herons and chicks sitting or standing on nests and tree branches, and I could hear more herons clacking, out of sight, behind the trees to my left. Two herons were perched on a double telegraph pole, 20 metres behind me and another in a tree, directly to my right. There were more leaves on the trees and taller grass in front of me than there had been when I visited the site a couple of months ago – which is not surprising, I suppose. None of the herons flew off in alarm, so I am pretty sure that they were not aware of my presence; they might have been aware that there was something unusual in my general direction, but they weren’t showing any signs of distress. Without my camouflage the herons would have clacked and flapped hysterically; those capable of fleeing would have flown the nest to a safe tree, where they would observe, and scouts would have been flying overhead.

The problem with photography at the heronry is the lack of contrast: everything is green! … so green! Herons are not known for their colourful plumage, being black and white birds. The adult herons are easier to see against thick green foliage, but the chicks tend to merge into it.

After 3 hours of watching and photographing herons against a that strong green background, I left them in peace to enjoy the rest of their day,  and went home to take my dog out for his morning walk, and to get a spot of breakfast. I think my eyes were suffering from over-exposure to the colour green: verdigreen, I think it’s called.

4 Comments on “A few hours at the heronry.

  1. Hello Mike,

    Lovely heron photographs. You are lucky to have a heronry close enough to photograph. If I were as fortunate as you, I think I would spend a lot of my time studying them.

    Can you post more about the Wilden Marsh herons and badgers?

    I look forward to more great wildlife posts from you.

    Keep up the good work.

    John,

    • Thanks for your comment and encouragement, John.

      Herons have been known to desert their chicks when regularly disturbed, so I spend very little time at the heronry, particularly during the breeding season, and I make sure that my impact on the birds is minimal. I am happy if herons are not aware that I am watching them and very disappointed if I disturbed them.

      I post what I can.and I rarely set out to disturb badger setts and fox dens. Foxes, in particular, will move to another area if they sense regular human activity close to their dens. Foxes can have a few above-ground dens on their patch.

      I will do my best the keep the posts interesting.

      Mike.

  2. There is something strange about these photos! I can’t put my finger on it, but they are very dramatic.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for taking the time to post a comment.

      I think what you might find strange about some of the heron images is associated with the method I have used to make some of the images: I took three photographs, in a single burst, at differing exposure setting, and then combined them into a single image in an attempt to improve the definition of the subject.

      Mike.

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