It feels better to be shooting

The temperature is still bouncing up and down more than it should (said within earshot of Mother Nature,) but it’s quite nice to be able to go out and easily find something to photograph. Have I mentioned that winter sucks? I mean, where are all the protestors aiming to correct that?

A few days back now, The Girlfriend and I did a pass around the neighborhood pond, not in the best of conditions considering that it started raining while we were out there, but still able to produce a handful of worthwhile shots. The double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) are not only still around, they’re increasing.

pair of female double-crested cormorants Phalacrocorax auritus on pilings, one drying
I initially took the spread one as a male, seeing it from a distance and noticing the darker feathers (males are mostly black,) but closer inspection showed it to be a wet female, one of three females residing at the pond now. We should be in season to see the namesake double-crests, but we need a male for that.

Another pair of images just for illustration:

female double-crested cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus in profile
This is the full frame (with the Tamron 150-600mm of course,) to give you an idea how much the next was cropped.

female double-crested cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus in tight closeup
Do you like the detail? I know I do. The autofocus can still wander a bit too much, but when it’s on, it’s on.

I’m still watching the pair of green herons (Butorides virescens,) and on that day, stalked what I’m taking to be the more mellow one. It can be hard to distinguish birds apart from one another, but so far, one seems quite spooky and won’t allow a close approach, while the other is a lot more tolerant of such.

green heron Butorides virescens stalking in shallows
This is almost full-frame, so we were quite close – about six meters, I believe. It remained wary, but did not interrupt its foraging over us. This image shows the nice variety of feathers, typical plumage for the adults. Like most of the heron family, males and females are largely indistinguishable, so I’m not even going to try.

As it wended along the water’s edge, it obtained the cover of border plants, but I still managed another view, switching to manual focus and using the herons’ lambent eye as the focal point whenever I got a clear enough view. The effect from the out-of-focus leaves worked pretty well.

green heron Butorides virescens foraging along shore almost obscured by leaves
This, to me, is more expressive of their habits, since they prefer to forage where hidden by foliage. Granted, it doesn’t show off their appearance worth a damn, but to give an accurate representation of their behavior, it works great.

We didn’t get out there again until this morning, and in fact, The Girlfriend initially stayed home – until I spotted something that I figured she’d want to see, and called her to come over. This is the first I’ve seen on the pond this year.

two adult Canada geese Branta canadensis in water plants with goslings just barely visible
They were more visible when I first saw them, but I didn’t have the camera out then. And when I did, I shot some video instead while they were in plain sight. These are of course Canada geese (Branta canadensis,) with goslings in tow – six, though only two are visible here between the adults.

By the way, the snag in the foreground is the same one used by the green heron last year, and as I link to it, I’ll suggest looking at the barring on the neck, which indicates that one was last year’s brood. It remains possible that it’s one of the same ones seen here this year, but there’s no way of telling.

But we’re getting sidetracked from the goslings.

four Canada goose Branta canadensis goslings foraging across a driveway
They were quite active, wandering across several yards alongside the pond, with the adults running interference whenever another goose ventured too close – I just missed video of this, twice, but stay tuned. The adults tended to herd them a safe distance from us, meaning a handful of meters, but they’re also fed by some of the residents (the human ones) so they’re not too wary.

four Canada goose Branta canadensis goslings foraging in grass
The Girlfriend was glad that I called her over, since she’d been planning on using the morning solely for her employee duties, but this was more interesting, and much cuter – she made up the time, don’t fret about it. Sheesh.

pair of water iris yellow flag iris Iris pseudacorus blossoms on pond's edgeI played with a couple of fartsy frames, per Mr Bugg’s instructions, since the water iris was popping out in a couple of places. I searched the plants carefully for green treefrogs (or anything else of merit,) but didn’t get anything to work with except some dew drops, so I’m just O’Keeffing here.

As we circled the pond, we saw no sign whatsoever of the green herons, which I found curious because it was a bright morning and I expected them out. As we came back around to the small copses of trees that I’m reasonably certain held a heron nest last year, I finally spotted a little movement within, eventually determining that a pair was close together within the thick foliage – the view was so bad that I suspected it was them only because of the size. It appeared that they both flew off only a short distance, but then one returned within a minute or so, giving a little more weight to the idea that they’re thinking of building a nest therein – either that or they’re really late risers. I searched as best as I could, given the foliage and my desire not to be obtrusive, and saw no evidence of a nest, which really means nothing – it could easily have been there and I just never spotted it. Or, since they were both out foraging only a few days previously, it hasn’t been started yet. We’ll just have to see what transpires. But as I was there, I maneuvered around to get the barest spot to peek through, and the heron obliged by shifting a little to watch me better.

green heron Butorides viriscens peeking out of dense foliage
Will this lead to more behavioral photos, perhaps some nice nest shots or feeding young? Can’t say, and won’t try to predict – I’ll just do what I can, but at least I’m a little more on top of it this year.

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