photography from the ground up

Herons, Herons and More Herons

Herons are solitary birds. Unlike cranes that go about their business in large flocks, herons are found on the edge of things: walking slowly and quietly along a canal, drainage ditch or river, hunting for their dinner. Although they are monogamous, they are rarely seen out together in public.


When I make my annual pilgrimage to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, the skies and the ponds are filled with raucous, gangly, yet somehow graceful cranes–thousands of them. The typical heron count is three or four. So, I spend a fair amount of time cruising slowly along the drainage canals looking for these elusive birds.


Sometimes, when I’m patient, I’m rewarded with a capture like the one above. I had followed this guy (girl?) for close to half an hour, moving when he moved, but giving him plenty of room. When I saw him extend his neck, I fired a continuous burst of about five exposures and this is the result.A-Study-In-Patience

There are other times when patience has nothing to do with it. Robin and I came across this heron standing along the edge of a canal on the south side of the Flight Deck Pond. We were easily within twenty-five yards of him and he acted like we weren’t even there.



Every once in a while, he would close his eyes as if napping. After about thirty minutes we had gotten all the exposures we wanted and drove off leaving him standing there.


I made this last image while my daughter Lauren and I were walking her dog at a dog park in Madison, Wisconsin. Luckily, I was a little ahead of them and had time to warn her off. Otherwise, her dog would have been after the bird and this capture would have been lost.


19 responses

  1. Wyatt VanDePol

    Wow. The first and last pictures are my favorite. Amazing pictures! Great Job!


    January 31, 2013 at 8:24 am

  2. These are fabulous Jim. I like the reflection, colours and light in the first image particularly. 🙂


    January 31, 2013 at 9:19 am

  3. Heron is one of my spirit animals. I loved this post, the images are stunning.


    January 31, 2013 at 9:27 am

  4. Beautiful photo report about the herons


    January 31, 2013 at 10:50 am

  5. I really like the second picture ! perfect timing 🙂


    February 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm

  6. Great! I love herons, I’d do with a lot more…
    Have a great day!


    February 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    • Thanks Dina. I saw one by the river yesterday, but he took wing before I could set up. They seem to be much calmer when they are at Bosque del Apache.


      February 8, 2013 at 8:58 am

  7. Beutiful photos of the herons ! I also looked at your landscape photos and they are stunning . Thank you for sharing ! // Maria


    February 11, 2013 at 8:55 pm

  8. jxs024

    Fantastic photos, and really great set-up, that was a pleasure to read. Thank you. Jay.


    February 23, 2013 at 10:14 am

  9. xmjtx

    The first 2 photos are my favourite in this set! Thank you for sharing! 🙂


    March 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm

  10. Did you have a telephoto on these heron photos. They are such a sensitive bird I don’t think you’d be able to get too close. We used to have one visit our garden pond and go to sleep in it! But it would take flight at the slightest movement or sound.


    July 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    • I used a Nikon 400mm lens. I know what you mean about herons being skittish. I have tried to photograph them on the river where I live without a lot of success. They seem to be more relaxed at Bosque del Apache. Maybe they can sense that they are protected there.


      July 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

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