01.31.21: Heron on one foot

A Green Heron prepares to strike at a fish in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples, Fla.

A Green Heron prepares to strike at a fish in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, north of Naples, Fla.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Jan 25, 2018 8:41 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: EF600mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x 
  • Focal length: 840mm
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter: 1/1250 second
  • ISO: 1600

Hunting for food and ready for action

The swampy parks in Southwest Florida are excellent places to photograph wildlife. They are filled with waterfowl, birds of prey, woodpeckers and other birds, alligators, snakes, deer and even the occasional Florida panther or black bear.

The parks have boardwalks to keep visitors above the swamp and above the gators, making it a relatively comfortable place for photography if you ignore the heat, humidity and mosquitoes.

I found this Green Heron standing on the remains of a fallen tree in an open area of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Fla. I had watched the bird for about 10 minutes, taking a variety of photos as it slowly changed positions while continuing its never-ending search for fish to consume.

As I was about to move on I noticed the heron cock its head and lean forward. I assumed it had spied a fish near the surface of the water so I kept the camera focused on the bird. It lifted one foot off its perch, then leaned forward and, with a quick strike, stuck its head in the water below.

It came up empty.

But I didn’t. I got a photo I liked.

The water in the background had a brownish tone, but the morning sun filtering through trees had a yellow cast and turned the background to a warm orange. The warm tones made this photo stand out from other Green Heron shots I have.

My wife and I have enjoyed visiting Corkscrew Swamp since our first visit in 1976, when it was in the middle of nowhere northeast of Naples, Fla. Now the sanctuary is surrounded by gated communities and homes. 

Corkscrew  is a National Audubon Society sanctuary was established in 1954 to protect one of the largest remaining stands of bald cypress and pond cypress in North America from extensive logging that was ongoing at that time. The sanctuary is an important breeding area for the endangered wood stork and a number of other wetland birds. And there are lots of alligators, cottonmouth water moccasins and a number of other snakes.

The water in the background had a brownish tone, but the morning sun filtering through trees had a yellow cast and turned the background to a warm orange.