If you don’t move, they can’t see you.
That pretty much explains why this Green Heron landed just thirty feet from me in Huntington Beach State Park, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I was standing motionless when he flew into an eyelevel treetop right next to me. I was so surprised to see him, I couldn’t think fast enough and I couldn’t move slow enough to get his picture. I thought I’d be lucky to get just one shot before the shutter click would frighten him. He was so close I thought he could hear me breathing.
He is a marsh dwelling bird a little larger than a football, with a similar shape too. The Green Heron and I share the same technique of standing still for long periods of time to catch something, although the Green Heron is far better at it. To find one you usually need to scan the reeds closely to notice one patiently waiting. They are in a small group of birds that have learned to bait the water in front of them with insects or objects to attract prey.
A football shaped bird would seem ill equipped to catch anything as fast as a fish, but underneath all those colorful feathers is a surprisingly long neck. He did a little preening and rearranging of his feathers.
He stretched his neck to survey his surroundings, but most of the time he kept it tucked in close. The green in his name comes from the green in his back.
I watched him intently for the three minutes he allowed me. Then he took off calmly, never noticing I was there. Luck and waiting patiently worked for me today.
June 20, 2012