I just cannot make this stuff up
It’s Tuesday evening, and I’m in my driveway repairing my floor jack (that’s a story for another day) when I hear this loud screech. I thought “what the Hell was that?”, but kept on working. Then it happens again, but longer in duration and much louder, and it’s coming from my backyard. It’s almost Pterodactyl-like, but I’m thinking maybe it’s a small dog that’s in trouble. Knowing George and Patsy Scott (my neighbors) have smalls dogs, I went running. My neighbor’s Scott and Nancy Albrecht, and Roger Luebeck, also came flying out to see what was going on, and THIS is what we saw:
Nikon D5000 with a Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD lens shot at F/4 and 1/100 of a second shutter speed. ISO 200. Focal length: 80mm.
It’s a Great Blue Heron! Scott initially thought it was a Crane, but both of us looked it up the next day and discovered its true identity. Regardless, what a sight! This bird was HUGE; they can be up to 4 1/2 feet tall with a wingspan up to 6 feet wide, and this guy certainly looked to be in that class. When I first arrived, his wings were fully spread while he was making his screech. More on why he was doing that in a bit, as that’s when this gets REALLY fun! Anyway, the arrival of the humans seemed to calm him down; he remained stationary for a while.
Nikon D5000 with a Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD lens shot at F/4.8 and 1/60 of a second shutter speed. ISO 200. Focal length: 160mm (IMAGE CROPPED).
I ran into the house and grabbed my trusty Nikon D5000 and fired away. I could have spent days in the wild and never got a shot this good, and it’s from my own backyard! What was interesting is when I shot with my 18-70mm lens, he was fine; I got up to about 15 feet away from him with no issues. However, when I returned with the larger and much more intimidating Tamron telephoto zoom lens, he was quickly spooked, and he walked into George and Patsy’s yard.
Nikon D5000 with a Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD lens shot at F/6.3 and 1/640 of a second shutter speed. ISO 200. Focal length: 75mm (IMAGE CROPPED).
So off he flew. George and Patsy’s garage is in the background.
So now you are wondering…what agitated him so much? Scott Albrecht pointed it out right away; he said “looks like he’s interested in George’s garden decorations!”, and well, here is that for you to see:
….wait for it!…
Nikon D5000 with a Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD lens shot at F/4 and 1/125 of a second shutter speed. ISO 200. Focal length: 70mm.
As I said, I am NOT making this up! A real live Great Blue Heron was doing a mating call for this forged metal version of the real thing. The heron was facing this when all of us arrived; about 20 feet away or so. I’m guessing part of the reason he took off was he realized he wasn’t going to be getting any that night.
Photographically, I set the D5000 in Program Mode and just let it rip. Although I far prefer shooting in Manual, I am glad someone invented Program modes, because they are quite handy. As usual, the D5000 kicked ass (click on the larger images; even at 1024 x 768 they look great), and the Tamron zoom performed like a champion; the VC kept the images still, even if I wasn’t.
This was the first time I have seen a Great Blue Heron (at least up this close), and all I had to do was walk into my backyard…haw!
However, it doesn’t end there. The next day at work my car was hit by a large bird bomb. Perhaps the Heron has returned and is holding a grudge against me for breaking up his love affair? Or maybe, just maybe, that metal Heron IS real!
..and “Time for me to Fly” by REO Speedwagon is playing as I build this…I am NOT making that up!
all images © Scott Woelm – May 2012