February 3, 2016
Big Bird Turf Battle
- as seen by -William G. Conway
The big bird was a transient owner of a patch of Long Island Sound shore. He stood aloof and immobile, perhaps confident that his kind’s millions of years of history there assured title. His name is Ardea alba, the great egret, and he is both graceful and beautiful.
I moved as imperceptibly as a camera-laden six-footer on a rocky shore could, slowly inching closer for a picture. I call this time-consuming approach the “egret-inch” and have used it in the Bronx, in thorny bushes over penguin burrows in Patagonia, and next to crocodiles in Africa (not advised!)
Ever so slowly the big heron turned, (original inch), aiming his sharp yellow beak at some hapless creature at foot-level. Then, Splisht! He stabbed too fast for me, I missed the picture. But suddenly another egret interfered, challenging number one! Growls. Turf! Territory! Chaos! I clicked.
Great egrets are among the planet’s most photogenic birds and there may be two million living in freshwater and saltwater habitats. However, to continue to contribute to the beauty of our world, they need their viable wetland ecosystems, now rapidly disappearing.
And it helps to move slowly in their presence.
Nikon D300s, 80-400mm Lens