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Herons

Journal Entry: Sat Apr 25, 2015, 1:09 AM
There is a small heronry near where I live. Sited on the bank of the Ladybrook and nestling in tall Scots pines, this breeding colony comes back every Spring to re-build nests, lay eggs and raise its young. I've been lucky enough to watch this annual event over about 25 years. At one time there were as many as 18 breeding pairs, but now, I think the number closer to 9. The local landowner has cut down several of the nesting trees for some unknown reason.

The high swaying tree tops with their densely packed needle foliage make viewing of any chicks by the naked eye all but impossible, but a long lens, patience, and a still day can pay dividends. The female herons attend the nest and chicks, while the males fly far and wide for food and for sticks to build and reinforce the nests. The herons are pair bonded, and the females can spot a returning male at about 1/4 mile, letting out a shrill call of greeting. The females also guard the chicks from their arch enemies - the crows, and now also from buzzards who always have a beady eye open for a heron chick lunch.

Here are some shots from a visit to the heronry earlier this week: first, three of male herons. The third shot is not up to my self-imposed standard of focus, but I've included it as an example of how majestic these birds look as the prepare to land.



Heron 1 - The Repairman by Okavanga  Heron 2 - Full Flight by Okavanga  Heron 3 - Elegant Landing by Okavanga


There were two chicks in the nest shown in the next set of photographs. They are not that easy to see even when knowing they are there! The first image of this set shows the two open beaks pointing upwards in the familiar gaping pose that hungry chicks adopt. I had the strong impression that there was already a dominant chick in this pair as seen in the next two shots. Careful scrutiny of the third of this set shows the feathery crown on the chick that will become the distinctive head plumage of the heron.


Heron 4 - Where's the Food, Mum? by Okavanga    Heron 5 - Crossed Beaks by Okavanga  Heron 6 - Nothing Like a Good Squawk! by Okavanga

Even though the chicks are but a few weeks old, there instinct for craning the neck and looking about has developed as seen in the next image. The female is watching the sky for predators and for the return of her mate. The chick follows her example. The final shot is in some ways the luckiest of the whole shoot in that it shows the female with beak wide open, tongue visible, as she calls out to her returning mate. The two chicks are there, but difficult to distinguish.


Heron 7 - Where's Dad? by Okavanga   Heron 8 - Calling to Her Mate by Okavanga

On a technical note, all these images were taken with a Canon 5D Mark 3 fitted with a EF 100-400 mm L IS 1:4.5-5.6 lens. All shots were hand-held.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to the heronry!

Cheers

David

This Journal Skin was designed by Night-Beast modified by Okavanga

Journal History

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David
United Kingdom
Scientist, scholar, philosopher, writer, photographer, traveller, sportsman, oenophile, whisky drinker, beer imbiber, cat lover, art historian, walker, driver, reader, computer geek, TV watcher, music listener, photo editor, Web contributor, enjoyer of good food, expert witness, industrial consultant, legal advisor, problem solver, analyst, chemist, information retrieval expert, sometime rider, runner, keep-fit addict, hypocrisy hater, politician loather, altogether - a devious deviant.

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:iconcoloredinlove:
COLOREDINLOVE Featured By Owner 9 hours ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for being so sweet! Have a wonderful weekend honey!:iconrbheartplz::kiss::iconrbheartplz:
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Placi1 Featured By Owner 19 hours ago
Thank you very much for the fave, David!!

László
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Okavanga Featured By Owner 15 hours ago
:iconthumbupplz:

David
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fotoponono Featured By Owner 22 hours ago
David, I thank you for all the pic you have added to your collection.  Appreciated highly.  Nod 
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Okavanga Featured By Owner 15 hours ago
My pleasure, Henry.

David
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Gerda1946 Featured By Owner 22 hours ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the faves David! :D :sun:
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Okavanga Featured By Owner 15 hours ago
No probs, Gerda!

David
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claudio51 Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks a lot for the fav!
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Okavanga Featured By Owner 15 hours ago
Okey Dokey!

David
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LainyLu Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wonderful gallery!!!
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