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Old Jan 25, 2011, 12:59 PM   #1
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Default Hunting Bittern

The following is a sequence of an American Bittern hunting, seldom seen in such short vegetation. Bitterns eyes focus downwards with the beak extended, and slink slowly and horizontally, watching the ground beneath if the bill is level, or ahead if raised. From a sequence of 19 images. Sony a55/Minolta 500 AF mirror.

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Old Jan 26, 2011, 7:51 PM   #2
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Penolta,

Great. Over here you never see them, being the masters of disguise. Their sound though can be heard miles away, like the low frequency when you blow 90 degrees on a bottle neck(?)

Do you often see them?

Torgny

In here there must be one but I can't see it. A friend of mine, Peter Wiking, an ornithologist and photographer says it's to the right of the whole frame :-) Traitor!
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Old Jan 27, 2011, 9:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torgny View Post
Penolta,

Great. Over here you never see them, being the masters of disguise. Their sound though can be heard miles away, like the low frequency when you blow 90 degrees on a bottle neck(?)

Do you often see them?

Torgny

In here there must be one but I can't see it. A friend of mine, Peter Wiking, an ornithologist and photographer says it's to the right of the whole frame :-) Traitor!
This is only the second time I have ever seen one hunting in the open like this - usually they are in or near cattails. They are seen most often when they are flushed out of cover and flying away.

I can't see the one in the photo either (if he isn't trying to fool you and there is actually one in there). They are usually standing straight up facing you and with the bill pointing upwards. Their stripes blend in with the vegetation, and all you see are the two eyes looking around the bill at you!
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 11:09 PM   #4
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nice catch! bitterns are rarely seen around here, and birders get really excited if someone reports a sighting. i had an opportunity to photograph one from about 15 feet away a couple of years ago for about 10 minutes while it was fishing in the shallows, but haven't even seen one since! due to their camouflage, which lets them blend in so perfectly with dead reeds and grass, they're very hard to spot. when alarmed they point their beaks straight up and extend their necks, so that the brown and cream stripes in their plumage mimic the light and shadow of dead reeds and grasses.
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Old Jan 30, 2011, 10:17 AM   #5
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I'm always quite taken with how Bitterns camouflage themselves, both from physical movement and color.

I've seen very few Bitterns in my life and think I've heard one, perhaps only once.

Great pictures....
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Old Jan 30, 2011, 12:36 PM   #6
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Thanks Rocky and Les for looking and commenting.
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Old Jan 30, 2011, 8:19 PM   #7
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Don't wanna hijack your thread, Penolta, but i wanted to share one of the shots i got of this little fella trying to camouflage himself... woulda worked, except he wasn't in the reeds!

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Old Jan 30, 2011, 8:48 PM   #8
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Fantastic series.
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Old Jan 30, 2011, 9:17 PM   #9
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Thank you, Flutelady.

Rocky, not a hijack - it is a good illustration of the eye position that I was trying to describe. While in the right situation it certainly does confer camouflage, here rather than trying to hide, it may be that it was just trying to get a look at you with both eyes! You were much closer than I was, too. Thanks for posting it.
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Old Jan 31, 2011, 9:41 PM   #10
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I've never seen a bittern, either in the wild or captivity. Thanks very much to both of you for posting these remarkable photos and for this fascinating lesson.
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