Tricolored Heron in breeding plumage

Tricolored Heron standing in the surf of the Gulf of MexicoTricolored Heron standing in the surf of the Gulf of Mexico – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 116mm, natural light

I was digging through my image files yesterday and came across a series of Tricolored Heron images that I had never edited from a May morning in 2009 when I was photographing birds at Fort De Soto’s north beach. The Tricolored Heron had the red legs, blue lores and bill and the long white occipital plumes that indicated the heron was in full breeding plumage.

Tricolored Heron with preyTricolored Heron with prey – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light

The Tricolored was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and as I recall it was quite successful in capturing prey. The waves where choppy that day because of wind but that didn’t slow the heron down at all. The Tricolored heron would catch a fish…

Tricolored Heron swallowing its preyTricolored Heron swallowing its prey – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 220mm, natural light

And swallow it whole. In this image you can see the small fish about to go down the heron’s throat.

Tricolored Heron after eating preyTricolored Heron after eating prey – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 195mm, natural light

After swallowing the fish it seemed the heron would take a small break and just stand still at the shoreline where the waves would wash over its feet. The wind was blowing from the south that morning which blew the heron’s feathers around creating this spikey little “do”.

Tricolored Heron in breeding plumageTricolored Heron in breeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 250, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 230mm, natural light

I left the Tricolored Heron where it stood and wandered north on the beach to find other birds. As always, it was another lovely morning at Fort De Soto’s north beach.

Mia

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