Tale of The Take – Great Blue Heron


Some of you readers that have been with me a long time, maybe remember this photo of a Great Blue Heron.  This image shows the heron maneuvering his catch so he can swallow it down head first.  I was fortunate enough to come up with an exposure that seemingly suspends the catfish in mid-air.

Great Blue Heron - about to swallow catfish

We were below the Lake Nasworthy Dam, in San Angelo, Texas, back in September of 2009.  There were several pools between the rocks in the water, and the Blue Heron was doing a little fishing there.  He seemed oblivious to Ann and I, so I was able to take the time to set up my camera and tripod only about 30 feet away.  I watched him fish a bit, and tried to time his spearing so I could get a shot, as I did this one below.

Great Blue Heron catchng a catfish

Not bad for a practice shot.  I tried several more series of shots.  I had set my camera on high-speed multiple shots, and was able to shoot at about 5 frames per second.  As the heron’s head hit the water, I held the shutter down and produced several more shots.  Two of them are below.

Great Blue Heron with captured catfish

Great Blue Heron with captured catfish

This bottom photo is the one that I selected to produce the cropped image that you see at the top of this post.  The heron was quite hungry that morning as we watched him catch and devour at least four little catfish.

Camera vital information:

  • Canon 40D SLR
  • Canon 500mm f4 IS telephoto lens
  • Aperture Priority
  • Partial Metering
  • Exposure 1/4000 sec at f6.3
  • ISO 400
  • Bogen-Manfrotto tripod
  • Wimberley II gimbal head

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

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19 thoughts on “Tale of The Take – Great Blue Heron

  1. I just love this one. We watch a host of herons from our backyard paradise by the creek. We share the same wonderful bird populations as Brazos Bend State Park which is very near us. At the current time, we’re watching green and yellow-crowned night herons, as well as the occasional kingfisher. Love it!

    Your photography is way beyond mine. I’m delighted to have found your blog and look forward to seeing your future posts.

    • Thank you very much, Shannon. I haven’t been near Brazos Bend SP. As you probably have assumed I am in San Angelo and we haven’t ventured to East Texas much, but from what you have described, maybe we ought to do it.

      I am glad you have found my blog, and by the way, I have checked out yours, too, and I have found it to be very entertaining, and will be following it too.

      • I saw that…and thank you. I’ll always be quick to welcome fellow-birders and naturalists, and with a penchant for photography — a bonus. I’ve also enjoyed checking out your blog. I will have to come back in stages, as time permits.

        • I am glad you clicked. :-). Originally my forte was photography, landscapes and wildlife, but got talked into blogging and I am having a blast. But birding and photography complements each other.

  2. Wow! These really are amazing. I love your tales and can imagine you intensely absorbed in your project of the moment, while Ann gets a chance to relax and just absorb the beauty.

    • Thank you again, Cindy. You are right on all accounts. It is so much fun to try to get images like these. Ann does just sit or stand there in awe. 🙂

    • That’s a great compliment, too. Thanks, Ryan. I just checked out Keven’s site and he is indeed amazing. I don’t know that I compare to his work, but I do know that I am hard on myself.

  3. Wow – what a capture!! That first/last shot is just amazing, like something that I’d expect to see in National Geographic – a nature moment frozen in time! 🙂

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