Green Herons, Masters of Camouflage

by Larry Jordan on August 21, 2010

Mourning Dove Drinking from the Sacramento River photos by Larry Jordan

I was fortunate to get off work a little early the other day and decided to stop by Turtle Bay and see what avian fauna was about.  It was near 100 degrees, in the late afternoon so I didn’t expect much.  I walked across the bridge to the East side of the Sacramento River and positioned myself in the shade to try and catch some Common Mergansers that were feeding along the shore.

The Mourning Dove flew down from a tree above my head to get a drink from the river, shortly after a North American River Otter cruised by.

All of a sudden the distinctive sound of a Belted Kingfisher crackled through the air.  Audio courtesy of Robin Carter (XC1363).  [audio:]

Some of you may know that I have been trying to photograph one of these amazing birds for quite some time.  This photo doesn’t do her justice.

She stayed in the shadows of an inlet near the bridge, fishing.  I tried to follow her but she slipped by me.  So I headed back toward the river and waited.

As I tried to find a place on the steep bank for my tripod, I flushed a Green Heron that was so well hidden, I didn’t even notice it.  I searched for its new location back up the inlet where the Belted Kingfisher, and a Great Egret also, had been fishing.  A bright golden eye gave it away.

I watched this excellent fisher make a catch and swallow it down before I could focus my lens.  Then, to my surprise and increasing excitement, it flew to a perch directly across from me and began preening.

I just watched as he or she arranged all feathers into their proper places.

And then slipped back into the shadows.

If you want to see  a cool video of a Green Heron fishing, check out his previous post.

I will continue my quest for a good Belted Kingfisher photo.  Until then, check out Bird Photography Weekly for more great bird photos.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil August 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Great photos to be that close as it went about its preening and the Kingfisher looks amazing.
.-= Neil´s last blog ..Little Egret &amp White-breasted Woodswallow =-.


Mick August 21, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Great photos – I always enjoy it when I manage to see a bird going about its normal business without being disturbed by the human that is watching.
.-= Mick´s last blog ..A Big Country! Part 2 =-.


eileen August 22, 2010 at 5:32 am

Larry, great shots of all the birds. I have always loved the Green Heron and your shots are awesome.
.-= eileen´s last blog ..Mattawomen Creek =-.


Klaus August 22, 2010 at 5:47 am

Good job, Larry!


Mike B. August 22, 2010 at 5:52 am

Saw my first kingfisher a couple of weeks ago- they don’t look real!


Larry August 22, 2010 at 6:50 am

@Neil thank you. It was cool watching it from that close

@Mick I agree. I always feel pleased if I can watch a bird without disturbing it. If it knows I’m there, I feel extra special and if I get photos, well, that’s tops for me

@Eileen thank you, they are one of my favorites

@Klaus thanks!

@Mike they are strange looking birds for sure. Their heads are so big compared to their bodies. They are certainly amazing fishers though so their design cannot be questioned


OpposableChums August 22, 2010 at 7:30 am

I’ll chime in with the same sentiments: great photos of the Green Heron. I also love that Mourning Dove pic.


dreamfalcon August 22, 2010 at 11:14 am

you got some nice shots of the Green Heron! And the belted is really hard to get – so you have a nice one there, too. I also like the Dove drinking – it’s always nice to get a “special” pose.
.-= dreamfalcon´s last blog ..Ruby Tiger – Phragmatobia fuliginosa =-.


Amy August 22, 2010 at 11:57 am

I always love to watch birds bathing or preening. What a treat to see, thanks for sharing!


Carole August 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm

In addition to the great photos, it was a wonderful post. I could imagine being there on the river, you even supplied sound.


Alan August 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Great photos of the green heron Larry! Love the “eye” shot. Also, congrats on getting the photo of the kingfisher. They can be a tough one to capture.
.-= Alan´s last blog ..Meet Ricky &amp Lucy – Osprey of the Outer Banks =-.


Larry August 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm

@Jason thank you very much

@Dreamfalcon thanks. I like the dove photo because I was seeing it through the grass. It makes me feel like I’m hidden from view

@Amy it was a treat for me

@Alan thanks. I am still on a quest to get a good Belted Kingfisher photo. With digiscoping, I am getting closer


Ken Schneider August 22, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Beautiful series on the Green Heron, Larry!


bob k August 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Real close-up shots of the Green Heron, Larry! It’s funny because in most of my encounters with this wader, they were always out in the open. 🙂

Good luck on your Belted Kingfisher quest.
.-= bob k´s last blog ..7 UP and an Olive =-.


Phil August 23, 2010 at 1:07 am

Hi Larry. Your pictures certainly illustrate your premise about Gren Herons being masters of disguise the way the bird blend into its habitat.
.-= Phil´s last blog ..An Evening Surprise =-.


sciencedude288 August 23, 2010 at 6:38 am

Saw a juvenile Gren Heron a few days ago, quite the transformation!
.-= sciencedude288´s last blog ..7-16-10—59F—73H—Aula Global =-.


MaineBirder August 23, 2010 at 8:32 am

Don’t feel left out, I have been trying for ages to get good shots of a Belted Kingfisher.

But you more than well made up for it with the exquisite photos of the Green Heron.

Excellent series Larry!
.-= MaineBirder´s last blog ..Chipping Sparrow Feeding Young =-.


Halcyon August 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Wow! That green heron is spectacular. I love the last photo. Looks like he’s staring you down.
.-= Halcyon´s last blog ..Young Mockingbird =-.


NatureFootstep August 24, 2010 at 5:28 am

It almost felt like I was spying on thatheron. Intimate photos somehow. Great shots.
.-= NatureFootstep´s last blog ..Birding at Strandstuviken =-.


Amber Coakley August 24, 2010 at 6:46 am

Hi Larry – your Green Heron is just beautiful. It must have been great to be able to observe her for awhile.

Belted Kingfishers are a challenge, it seems. I’ve only had a few fleeting opportunities to get some underwhelming photos. Before you know it, a Belted Kingfisher will probably take his turn to perch right in front of your camera and preen, just like the equally-elusive Green Heron!

.-= Amber Coakley´s last blog ..Bird ID at Copper Breaks State Park TX =-.


Lana August 24, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Great shots! How nice of the heron to pose for you like that!
.-= Lana´s last blog ..Bogue Chitto NWR and More =-.


Pat O'Donnell August 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Nice photos of that Green Heron! I especially like the first photo where its golden eye is staring out of the marsh vegetation. It’s quite the handsome heron species.


Scott August 31, 2010 at 12:31 pm

VERY NICE! Reminds me of a similar scene Heather and I encountered in Walnut Creek with green heron juveniles and elusive belted kigfishers.

The green herons were fairly tolerant of our presence, but the kingfishers knew we wanted to capture a photo and they kept their distance. They would sit idle just long enough to raise our cameras before zipping off. They were our white whales that day.
.-= Scott´s last blog ..Conservationists and Federal Agencies Converge on Army Depot to Restore Burrowing Owl Habitat =-.


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