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Old Jul 7, 2004, 10:14 AM   #1
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(I did not take this picture, borrowed it from a website. You can see the credit printed on the photo.)

I have been trying to catch what I believe is a Great Blue Heron (pictured)in the pond where I have been seeing lots of birds.

This is the wariest animal I have ever tried to put the sneak on.

As soon as I get anywhere near the pond the stilts start flying over my head chirping like crazy. This puts the Heron on the alert and the second I put even 1" of my head over the horizon it is GONE and wont come back until the stilts are quiet again. I swear it has better eyesight than an antelope.

I have sat in full camo in the tall marsh grass for over an hour and the stilts are still chirping. 5 minutes after I leave the Heron comes back to the pond.

So do any of you more experienced bird sleuthers have a trick I can use to catch this worthy adversary in/at the pond so I can get some shots to share with you guys.

At this point I am thinking sneak in very early in the morning while it is still dark and get set up in the tall marsh grass and sit and wait. I wonder if the birds can see that well in the dark that that would not work either. Anybody have any ideas?

Thanks
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Old Jul 7, 2004, 10:30 AM   #2
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What I have seen in my local park is that the resident heron always perches on same tree at roughly same time. So I try to be there. Early in the morning is nice time. I was able to sneak on him couple of times. I moved very slowly and kept shooting with my FZ1& tcon-17. When I moved too close, he decided to fly.




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Old Jul 7, 2004, 11:18 AM   #3
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zoomn wrote:
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At this point I am thinking sneak in very early in the morning while it is still dark and get set up in the tall marsh grass and sit and wait. I wonder if the birds can see that well in the dark that that would not work either. Anybody have any ideas?
I couldn't see the photo (broken link) but the strategy you outline above may work well for you. I'd try it on that particular bird. Don't worry about the birds seeing well in the dark because I think that if you stake out your spot, based on your knowledge of where the heron likes to spend his/her time, and stay quiet and as still as possible, then the heron is most likely to "come on in".

My experience with herons is that, just like humans, individual herons have variations in behavior - some are very skittish and wary and others don't even seem scared of you. It sounds like your heron is a good example of the former.

Just 2 weeks ago, on my way to work, there was a Great Blue Heron on the side of this road and I was able to get to within 10 feet of it because I was in the car, but of course I didn't have my camera with me.
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Old Jul 7, 2004, 11:31 AM   #4
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Appreciate the responses.

I wish this was one of those approachable ones. This is the wariest animal I have ever experienced. Of course the babbling of the stilts greatly compounds the problem.

It has been fun trying to outwit this bird. It will be worth it when I finally do.

Bobbyz thanks for posting your shots. I like the first one. You can really get an idea of these size of these birds in your second shot when he is taking off.

Geoffs, I think I will try that sneak in the dark strategy then. I just didn't want to waste my time getting up so early if those darn stilts were going to see me sneaking in even in the dark. I have seen the heron take off from the same place in the pond several times so I know where to set up at.
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Old Jul 7, 2004, 1:09 PM   #5
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I've posted several heron pictures here in the past, to demonstrate my luck at getting close to these great birds.

And luck is often the right word. I've gotten within about 6 feet of them, and I've had them leave when they see me coming. There isn't always anything you can do about it.

Herons usually roost for the night, so if you stake out a feeding pond, you might find that it isn't even there early in the morning. I know that the place I like to watch/photograph them was completely empty at sunrise and during the next 15 minutes I got to watch 10 fly in (and a few egrets.) Lots of fun.

One thing that was mentioned, but not explained was to take pictures while you approach. Do this if the bird knows you are there. Even if you're just shooting the ground, do it. Your camera makes noise, and the act of shooting all the time gets them used to it. Its not like you are going to "sneak" up on it, it knows you're there. But you want to think the camera sound is "normal" and not worthy of alarm.

When you approach them, do it at a snails pace. We're talking a step a minute could be what it takes. Another thing is to go back every day for a week. Just keep visiting. Don't scare it off, just let it see you and get used to you (photograph the stilts, they are also cool birds.) As it learns you're not a threat, you'll be able to get closer.

There is a national wildlife refuge near me (where my last 2 heron pictures were from) that people like to walk and jog. This leads to the birds getting more comfortable around people. It's still odd to have a big eyeball pointed at you (they can see down your lens) but they'll know you aren't an immediate threat.

bobbyz
If you can help it, don't scare the bird away. That costs it energy which it will have to make up by eating more. If it can't find enough food, then you endanger its life. This isn't as much of a worry in summer as it is in winter (less food in winter) but it's still a good habit to get in to. Learn what it looks like when disturbed and pay attention to it. It's the nice thing to do.

Eric
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Old Jul 7, 2004, 1:34 PM   #6
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eric s,

Thanks for all the info. Some great stuff there I can definitely use.

The roosting info is great. That makes me feel much better about not spooking it off on my sneak into the pond in the dark. Your info about the heron maybe not being there first thing but they come in later from their roost will give me the patience to sit and wait.

I like your description of the really slow approach. That is what I normally do. If you keep your face down and move so slow they can't detect the motion you can get quite close, as you have experienced. Doesn't work with the stilts.

I already have lots of pictures of the stilts. I took them the same day I got the avocet shots I posted here already. I just didn't get any I really liked.

I think it is the stilts that are making it so hard to get up on heron. There are about 30 of them and about 5 avocets at this pond. They make quite a racket and put the heron on alert.

There are 0 people ever around this pond and I have never gotten any closer than 100 yards to this heron, and that is in full sneak mode. This is proving to be quite a challenge and I am enjoying it. I am going to shift into super stealth mode this weekend and go in under cover of darkness. I will let you guys know what happens, hopefully with some pics. Thanks for taking an interest and helping out.

Eric s if you find a minute and feel so inclined would you mind posting some of your heron shots. I am very interested in seeing them.



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Old Jul 7, 2004, 2:51 PM   #7
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eric s wrote:
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bobbyz
If you can help it, don't scare the bird away. That costs it energy which it will have to make up by eating more. If it can't find enough food, then you endanger its life. This isn't as much of a worry in summer as it is in winter (less food in winter) but it's still a good habit to get in to. Learn what it looks like when disturbed and pay attention to it. It's the nice thing to do.

Eric

I totally agree with your Eric. I never do that. I rather miss my shot.




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Old Jul 7, 2004, 2:56 PM   #8
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I just read my msg and I think I used the wrong word (sneak on him). What I meant was I walked very slowly towards him. He knew I was there, so I kept shooting as I walked slowly towards him. When he decided to take off, I was still a pretty distance away from him.
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Old Jul 7, 2004, 6:19 PM   #9
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I know of a heron place, right on the edge of a country road that goes into a deep gully. I met the owner of the land and he gave me permission to set up a blind. I personally know that's the only way I'll ever get close enough because I've experienced exactly as described...you see it, you stop, and it's gone.

If I follow through on my idea I will get to the area early in the morning, while it's still dark, set up my blind (just a camoflage cloth) in the right place related to the sunrise position, and wait.

Good luck on the goal!
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