“The Nursery-To-Be”

A while back, I gained permission to photography a local Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) rookery that is on private land.  I had observed this rookery while driving by it one day in the spring of 2009.  I mentioned to one of my friends that I’d like to find who owns the land so that I could ask for permission.  As luck would have it, my friend knew the owner and said he would talk to him.  A few days later, I was told that I could photograph there.  In late March, I noticed that the Great Blue Herons were arriving at the rookery, so went out one evening to photograph them.  The following image was taken by shooting from a high area, across a pond from the rookery.  Quite a ways from the actual nesting site, but still came out quite good with my 500mm lens + 2x teleconvertor:

As can be seen by the above image, Great Blue Herons, like most wading birds, nest in colonies with others.  In the above image, there are 6 nests.  More nests extend beyond the boundaries of this image.  I believe there were 10-12 nests in this rookery.

Yesterday evening, I decided it was time to go back and check on the herons.  I walked to the same spot where the above image was taken, but could not see the nests very well due to leaves on trees between the rookery and me.  So I packed up my equipment and headed around the pond, to get a closer look at the nests.  As I moved to the other side, it wasn’t looking good.  From the original distance I was to the rookery, it was not evident that the trees of the rookery were beyond a creek that was unseen from my original location.  I walked the dam of the pond for several minutes.  With some luck on my side, I managed to find a pretty clear view to one of the nests!  In that nest, one adult Great Blue Heron was incubating eggs.  I looked around some more and found that one of the other nests contained two juvenile GB Herons … but I could not get a clear view to photograph them.  So, I set up on the incubating GB Heron/nest.  Here are a few of the images I got (with a 500mm lens + 1.4x teleconverter):

In the following image, note the nest directly above the GB Heron.  That nest is also active.

In the following image, the GB Heron is turning the eggs, before sitting back down on them.  Periodically, the eggs must be turned to prevent the contents from adhering to the eggshell.

And just before packing up to leave (I was losing light rapidly), a GB Heron flew back in over the pond, heading to the rookery:

I plan on photographing at this rookery site every few days.  Hopefully, there will be some chicks in the nest soon!  Watch for update posts on the progress of the rookery.

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