Great Blue Heron Sunrise at Viera Wetlands

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I almost slept in yesterday morning.  After working for six weeks straight with only two days off, I was tired.   Then I saw the radar at 5am and almost didn’t go at all.  Finally I said to myself, “Self, get out there and have fun!”  I’m so glad I did!  I met Michael Libbe at Viera Wetlands and we set up for sunrise silhouettes of the nesting Great Blue Herons.  One nest had an adult and a baby, and I begged the baby to reach up and say hi to Mom as the golden light of sunrise glowed behind him.  But Baby didn’t cooperate. So I started to beg Dad to fly in and bring in a nice fish.  You don’t get that kind of orange sunrise light very often, or for very long!  I gasped when Dad actually did what I requested…

Great Blue Herons at Sunrise
Great Blue Heron Family Fly-in

I’ll admit that the shot above is a composite of three shots from my continuous-shooting sequence (they were taken about 1/10th of a second apart).  The composite shows off the best head angles of the adult on the nest and the baby as the other adult flies in.  I love the silhouette of these graceful birds against the orange sky.

I would have been happy with just the shot above, but Nature gave me a great gift for my first day back out with the camera.  Not only did Dad fly in, but he hopped right onto Mom’s back!  I had to laugh as Junior watched from below…

Great Blue Herons at Sunrise
Golden Light Piggyback Ride!

My mom always looks at these kinds of pictures and asks, “Jessica, why do you like to shoot that?”   It’s fun!  It’s also interesting to watch the birds as they mate.  The top bird grabs the bottom bird’s neck.  I wonder if that is comfortable?  I’ve seen the Great Egrets at Gatorland do the same thing.

Great Blue Herons at Sunrise
Junior is just a bump on a log while the hanky-panky goes on above…

After they finished, the birds stretched their necks in a pretty courtship ritual.  The Great Blue Herons are so graceful and elegant, and I really enjoy photographing them during nesting season.  But here, they almost seemed to be looking around as if to say, “did anybody notice that?”

Great Blue Herons at Sunrise
Courtship Stretch

As quickly as it started, it was all over, and the adult flew off.  Junior was disappointed that he didn’t get any breakfast.

Great Blue Herons at Sunrise
Adios!  Hasta luego!

Given the number of nests at Viera, there are relatively few chicks — only about four that I saw yesterday.  I guess these parents decided that there’s still time to try for a second brood.  In between feedings for Junior, they worked on constructing a second nest.  You’ll get to read more about that in my next post.

Want to learn more about nature photography at Viera Wetlands?

Check out my Viera Wetlands page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!

Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!

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