Gone fishing …

Last week I mentioned the ‘uncomfortable consequence’ of sitting in damp places to photograph birds – this week I experienced it! I’m not complaining, I enjoyed getting a good look at an Eastern Great Egret fishing on the tidal flats beneath the Phillip Island bridge .


 Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/3200, f/5.6, ISO 100, focal length 310mm


It was low tide as I crept towards this egret, which was having more luck than the anglers on the jetty on the other side of the bridge. Most of the time I was squatting, which kept me dry apart from my feet. All it took was a moment of thinking I’d like a lower angle for a shot and I was soaking. I need to keep a change of clothes in the car; maybe waterproof trousers would be good for winter.

The Eastern Great Egret can be identified, even at a distance, by the length of its neck in proportion to its body. They are the only egret with a neck longer than their body and with a distinctive kink in the upper part of the neck. They also have a dark line which extends from the base of the bill to behind the eye which is useful to know if the egret is foraging in swampy grasslands and you can’t see the body:neck proportions.


Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/2500, f/5.6, ISO 100, focal length 310mm


It was fascinating to watch how it put that long neck to work. The egret’s feet and legs are so far from where it’s actually looking in the water that the fish have no warning. I was happy to get this shot with the water spray helping to show the speed of the attack.


Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/2500, f5.6, ISO 100, focal length 310


And in the image above is the little fish that didn’t get away. I saw one escape from the egret’s bill and was surprised that the egret made no attempt to re-catch it. The fish must have darted away pretty rapidly and the egret is built for stalking not chasing.

High on my list of ‘what to learn next’ is getting the exposure right for photographing white birds to maximise feather definition.

Happy birding, Kim





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