It has been a somewhat frustrating month of photography. I have spent lots of time outdoors but on many occasions I have come home without making a single picture.
On the weekend I was up in northern Ontario hoping I might see a bear, a wolf or a moose. Struck out again!
So yesterday, back home in Cambridge, Ontario I decided to skip my determined hunt for the coyote family I was observing through the summer and change venues. I am so glad I did.
Hespeler Mill Pond has been a great spot to see beautiful great egrets. With the forecast predicting sunny skies – the best time to photograph this species in my opinion – I drove across the wilderness known as Hespeler Road with all its fast food restaurants and found my way to the Speed River.
It’s only a few hundred metres along a gravel path to the spot I found a couple of years ago which, if I am patient, will afford me opportunities to see these magnificent birds. Egrets are members of the heron family and walk slowly through shallow water like their cousins.
Usually I sit and wait. In the early evening they spread out across this pond. There were several blue herons in the water fishing fairly close to me. They are slightly larger than the egrets and dominate the pond. Several hundred metres away on the other side of the water I could see a few egrets roosting.
A green heron flew past me a couple of times. There were all sorts of waterfowl coming and going. Two belted kingfishers were darting about too.
After an hour I was startled when an egret flew right past me much too close for a photo. I made a mental note to look for it further along the water’s edge later. Then I took some images of the herons – a warmup of sorts.
Across the water I could now count seven egrets in view with two more flying into the area where I was waiting. With a few shots to check my camera’s exposure settings I decided to wander along the trail to see where that first egret had gone.
There it was alone in shallow water lit up by the sun. I slowly made my way down a steep incline to the water’s edge while this bird appeared to watch me. Once I was perfectly still it continued to fish.
I always choose this side of the water to photograph from. The sun is behind me and lights up the birds – if they are facing my direction. But because of the tall trees there is shade close to the shore. As the shade increases the egrets will no longer be illuminated. So there is a time limit.
Luck was with me as a second egret came flying in landing nearby. With two subjects it was a delightful encounter.
Once these birds have spotted a fish they will stand still for ages waiting to strike with their long beaks.
While they take their time I have learned to be ready for action because they will often change position suddenly without any warning.
Satisfied I had accomplished what I had set out to do I started packing up my gear. The shade had increased and it was time to head out.
Experiences like these are priceless. They motivate me and we can all use some motivation, right?
Here’s another reminder of my upcoming photo presentation ‘When Wildlife Needs Our Help’
It’s on Thursday October 26th at Idea Exchange (The Old Post Office) 12 Water St. S, Cambridge. (7:00 – 8:00 p.m.) Admission is free but registration is required so organizers can determine seating arrangements. Here is the link to register (please copy and paste into your browser!
I hope to see many of you there!