Tripod holes 48

This one’s for Mr Bugg, who is likely to be pretty damn close to this spot in about a week or so.

yellow-crowned night heron Nyctanassa violacea seen through foliage in JN Ding Darling National wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida
N 26°27’10.73″ W 82° 7’33.94″ Google Earth location

Accuracy? I sincerely doubt it. But I was somewhere along Indigo Trail in JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida when I took these frames, and that’s close enough, especially since this bird is unlikely to still be there 28 years later. I was on my first dedicated photography trip alone, though my second visit to Ding Darling – I’d visited the year before with friends – and was hiking the walking trail looking for critters. A then-unknown bird species was calling out across the marshes and, after spotting it in the treetop, I stalked it carefully, pausing every handful of meters to take another frame in the certainty that it would notice me soon and take flight. Yet it did not, and within a couple of minutes I was directly underneath it – there was zero chance that I had successfully maneuvered so close without it being aware of my presence, so apparently it just didn’t care. After securing some nice frames, I brashly imitated its call.

yellow-crowned night heron Nyctanassa violacea looking directly at photographer in JN Ding Darling National wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida
And this is what I got in return: the yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea) fixed me with an evil glare and held it, which I have to say is the only time I’ve been so honored. It’s easy to imagine what was going through the bird’s head and virtually guaranteed to be absolutely wrong; the best I can say is that I either did more than a passing imitation of its calls, which demanded close examination to determine that there was no actual interloper on its territory, or (more likely) I was only close enough that it was confused as to what was making this inept attempt. Regardless, I took advantage of this with delight.

And then after a moment or three, the bird looked away again, dismissing me as inconsequential. I have to note that this was taken at 260mm, since that’s the longest lens I had at the time, and while cropped, I was only a handful of meters from the bird’s position, quite close as far as wildlife photography goes – the first frame at top is uncropped and taken while I was still further off. But my proximity was no matter – the bird had more important things to tend to.

yellow-crowned night heron Nyctanassa violacea back to ignoring photographer in JN Ding Darling National wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida
I want to point out that the species does not have an orange stripe along its jaw at all; that’s simply a leaf in the way, visible in the second image too. What’s funny about this is, I still consider Ding Darling to be a great place for photos, but when looking for examples as proof, I have nowhere near as many frames as I do of other locales. Truth be told, I’ve been there four times, I believe, and two of them were remarkably unproductive; the last visit with The Girlfriend (in 2009, damn) has so few frames I could easily argue that it’s a poor choice. Yet my first fartistic gator shot came from here, not half an hour before these, plus some raccoons, plus some fartistic lizards, so, hit-or-miss, but when it’s a hit, it’s a big one. That probably says enough.