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Close Encounters

December 30, 2010

I had just rounded a corner from a rain shelter at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Camouflaged in the alligator flag perched on a branch warming up was a young male anhinga, partially flaked with duckweed. The bird was two feet away and easily missed if you were walking with a destination in mind. But I was there to absorb the dry down in the swamp and took my time to notice sounds and movement. I was captivated by the bird and sat two feet away from him for almost thirty minutes. While leaning against the rail I listened to clatter from various herons and egrets feasting a good distance away. Then what to my surprise should appear? A visitor flew down on the railing where I was sitting and looked straight into my eyes. I tried to act nonchalant but then my visitor, now identified as an immature Little Blue Heron, started to approach me, like he’d known me his whole life and just wanted to cozy up and have a chat. With my camera around my neck I realized I was much too close with the zoom lens. I lengthened the distance as much as I could, stepped away from the rail and got off a few shots. Unfazed by the flash, he stayed around a few more minutes and we just enjoyed each other’s company. Then he flew across the boardwalk and over the head of the perched anhinga, lighting on the stems of the dying alligator flag. He had spotted some tree frogs and was attempting to catch them. Like a novice, he swayed on the fragile stems until he spotted his prey laying flat on the stems. Sometimes successful often enough not, when he fell he squawked, as if he were cursing, but got back on and continued his pursuit. In the meantime the anhinga had dried off, now sufficiently warm and after quietly relieving himself, dove silently back into the water.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    December 30, 2010 1:23 pm

    Such a beautiful story and experience Rosemary~
    This past summer I had a similar experience with a Great Blue Heron and I was simultaneously thrilled and a little unnerved. Eye behind the camera lens with zoom; the boat was gliding towards the Great Blue. Before I knew it, the zoom, like yours, was too long! I didn’t want to stop taking photos, yet felt as if I could reach out and touch the Great Blue. After a while it too flew off.
    I’m elated for you that you had the honor of such close company with a blue heron!

  2. Dolores Hoerner permalink
    January 1, 2011 1:00 pm

    Absolutely cool…beautiful picture. Lucky you…Thanks for sharing.

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