Thursday, September 9, 2010

Birds of a feather

Okay, first things first: I can't believe I hadn't yet used that as a post title.

However, I'm extremely glad I'd refrained until now, as this happens to be the time of year when the birds start gathering in flocks in preparation for their winter migration, one of those subtle yet undeniable signs that summer has come to an end.

That being said, when I heard a whirring sound while I was standing alongside Whimsy Pond tonight I'll admit I really wasn't expecting to see something like this:

Of course, nothing quite hits you over the head with the fact that winter's on the way like seeing flocks of Canada Geese on their way south. I happened to take some shots of this small group as they peeled out of formation as they heading in for a water landing—I think my favorite is the upside-down one up on the left:

A larger flock that arrived less than five minutes after the first:

However, it was this pair of Great Egrets that received the majority of my photographic attention while I was there today; I actually followed them from one end of the pond to the other in the hope of getting some shots of them together:

As you can see, they had a brief discussion about the concept of personal space:

By waiting until both birds were occupied before trying to move closer, and keeping relatively low to the ground when I did, I managed to edge my way over to a pretty good vantage point from which to take photos—it was definitely the closest I've been to the birds thus far, at any rate:

This one made me grin when I first saw it on my computer:

Just love those reflection shots:

As I made my way back over to the other end of the pond, which was also where my car was parked, I noticed there was a second pair of egrets perched in a dead tree across the water. And unless one of the two I'd just been photographing managed to fly back without my noticing, the bird that's getting settled on the lower branch in this shot brought the day's egret total up to five:

Finally, I just happened to catch sight of this Blue Heron in my peripheral vision as it moved through the water. As you can probably tell from the angle, the pond sits a little ways downhill from the road I was walking along, giving me a great perspective for this shot:

At this point, I was seriously thinking about calling it a night and heading home. However, a part of me really wanted to try to get a closer shot of the heron. And it just so happened that there was a good-sized tree positioned directly in the line of sight between my car and where I'd seen the heron wading. Add in the tall reeds along that section of the bank, and I had a solid shot at making it to within a few feet of the water without spooking the bird. Then it'd only be a matter of doing the exact same thing as when I was looking to photograph the egrets: keep low and move slow until I had a clear shot. So I figured I might as well give it a try, even though at that point I wasn't sure if the heron was even still there.

Happily, it was:

As Hannibal Smith used to say, don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

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