Saturday, May 2, 2009

Great Blue Heron at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

Muscatatuck NWR is a fantastic place to visit if you're into water birds. You can find lakes and ponds, marshes and swamps, floodplains and creeks...and mud puddles too. It seems every possible type of water habitat is available, so the ducks, herons, egrets, Osprey, American Bald Eagles (yes, they are there too, but not when we were), and any other type of waterfowl you can think of have their choice of spa options, and the avian word apparently is out -- especially during spring and fall migration! 

As we were nearing the end of our day at Muscatatuck, we drove through the back of the refuge and found a lovely little marshy pond that just happened to have a lovely little Great Blue Heron wading in it. We parked the car and I got out to use the car door as a blind. Then I switched over to the same technique I used to get close to the Osprey in the previous post. I moved inch by inch, very slowly...and got closer and closer. If you have patience and move about 1-3 inches at a time, you can get really close (and if you send out good vibes and throw in a few old Jedi mind tricks you're really covered). With each move I'd take a few photos, so the bird got used to all my clicking. With the Osprey, I crossed a field and entered the brush until I was about 10 feet from the tree he was in. It took about 30 minutes, but it was worth it. I was using a monopod, so my arms and shoulders didn't tire out. Inching the monopod forward and then stepping up behind it helps to keep you moving slowly. With the Great Blue Heron I didn't spend as much time moving towards him because he was so close to begin with -- plus it was the end of the day and Rick and Matty were in the car, waiting...patiently...sort of. 





I started to get a little sloppy and moved too far forward too quickly, and he took off. The old Jedi mind tricks didn't work on Big Blue, but I was able to get a few flight photos. 




To answer a few questions on the type of camera I use, I have a Nikon camera and use a Nikon 70-200mm lens with a 2x teleconverter, so I don't have a high-powered lens. The lens does have very nice vibration reduction, which helps keep the image sharper so I can crop it down...a lot! (Now I have Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" song in my mind!)
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

21 comments:

Kallen305 said...

Kelly, some of your best shots yet. Absolutely gorgeous!!!! I too follow the two inch creeping up procedure and it does work!! Wonderful photos!

BTW: My word verification if fartin. Who things of these words at Blogger???!!!???

Laure Ferlita said...

Mud puddles, Jedi mind tricks and big Blue?! I never know what i'll find when I come to your blog, but it['s bound to be entertaining!

Love Big Blue! The shots are well worth the wait!

And to add to Kallen's comment my verification was imbilc?!

Jayne said...

I love these photos Kelly. :c) I was right there with you whispering to myself, "Don't move, don't move, please don't move" as you inched forward. I like the suggestion of the old Jedi mind trick... always works for me too..hehe.

Montanagirl said...

Kelly - those are gorgeous shots. You're like me - I'll approach a few inches or feet at a time. Sometimes, it takes quite awhile. It just depends on how badly I want the picture. You did a great job. Thanks for sharing your camera info. Which Nikon model do you have, and is the lens an f/2.8 lens? It sure gets nice photos. Keep up the good work.

E said...

Very nice pics and story. Thanks for sharing, Kelly, have a nice week-end and many surprises with wings. Hugs

Ginnymo said...

Great shots of this one Kelly!! Do you know that one time there was a what seemed to be a lost Heron sitting on our back hill here. The lady upstairs called me and I took the lift chair up and went out and took a photo of it just before it flew off. There's no big body of water here. Must have been on it's way to some and got tired. What great shots you got!!

Tom said...

Hi Kelly, thanks for stopping by and commenting on my photo of Ash Cave. I'm always happy to meet more Ohio nature bloggers.

Tom

The Early Birder said...

Superb images Kelly & certainly worth the 'slowly, slowly, catchy monkey' approach plus the mental telepathy.

Nature As Is said...

It doesn't matter that your startled it away. You still got fantastic shots of the Heron in flight, something I still have yet to accomplish.

Warren Baker said...

nice stalking kelly! It goes to prove, a bit of field craft gets you good results.

Nature As Is said...

Kelly I hate to ask but could you help me with something. I just can't figure it out. I want to add a warblers button onto my blog and I just can't figure it out. do you mind?

Crista

holdingmoments said...

Muscatatuck NWR sounds like a great place to visit.
Lovely pictures of the Heron Kelly. He looks very much like our 'Grey Heron' over here. They are tricky to get close to; such good eyesight.

Steve said...

Wonderful Heron shots Kelly. The 'Force' seems to be with you!

pollicino said...

I have visited your very interesting blog.Do You want visit the my blogs for an exchange visit?Grazie.
http://internapoli-city.blogspot.com/

Phil and Mandy said...

Well stalked Kelly, lovely photos. Regards Phil

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
This is a very nice post with beautiful pictures of heron, especially the flight are really cool!! Just keep on going!

Ilan said...

Oh, what a majestic bird..
Splendid capture, the sharpness, the colors - All works well.
Great!

Kelly said...

Kim...thanks...as for your word verification...haha...some very strange words have been popping up.

Laure...okay....now I just laughed out loud....both of you with the strange words!! Thank you, also!

Jayne..."please don't move..." made me laugh. The Force...we must have an unusually high metachlorian count. ;-)

Montanagirl...it's an f/2.8 but when you add the 2x teleconverter it make it an f/5.6. The camera is a Nikon D700 and really is my husband's (but he has lost it to me and is resigned to the fact--as I see he recently became a follower on my blog!).

Enita...thank you so much. You are always so sweet. I did have a lot of winged surprises today. Tomorrow the rain is really supposed to move in, but that's okay because I saw enough today to last for days.

Ginny...who knows! Maybe you put off some good bird resting place vibes! thanks...

Tom...it was great to find another Ohio bird blogger. You're just up the road a couple of hours from me. Thanks for stopping by!

FAB...thank you! Today I didn't do much of the slow stuff...everything was happening too quickly. Seems the slow stuff only works on the large birds...

Crista...yes! I can help you. Email me with your details, and I'll work up directions for you! Thanks!!

Warren...thank you! Yes...and it really is fun to slow down and just listen to what's going on around you--in addition to getting close (it's tempting to chase after another song you hear, but rewarding when the stalking works!).

Keith, you would love it! The varied habitat in one place is wonderful! Thanks...

Steve...thank you! The Force.....it's all around us...feel it! :-D (Can you tell I'm a huge Star Wars fan? Han Solo rules...)

Pollicino...thank you for stopping by! I'll have to drop by your site too.

Thank you so much, Chris!! Now...I know if it were you...you would have stepped into the bog and gotten closer, but I didn't have on my boots....and...

Ilan...thank you!! He is a beautiful bird. We are lucky to have them on the planet. So big and gorgeous.

Heather said...

Very lovely heron photos Kelly. Good stalkin' skills! Do you ever use a tripod, or always a monopod? I've never used a monopod... I just can't imagine it being steady enough for me (I'm pretty shaky sometimes).

Shellmo said...

These are incredible shots of the heron!! Wow!!

Kelly said...

Thanks Heather and Shelley!!