A Green Heron reacts to a Broad-winged Hawk

Green HeronGreen Heron – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

One morning in 2008 I photographed this Green Heron at Sawgrass County Park in Pinellas County, Florida as it perched and preened on broken branch that was laying in the water. The Green Heron seemed oblivious of me as I photographed it from the boardwalk. In fact It didn’t often even look in my direction. The people walking past me as I laid flat on my stomach on the boardwalk with my lens poking through the slats paid me far more attention than the bird. Of course they were probably wondering what I was doing period.

A very alert Green HeronA very alert Green Heron – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/200, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 260mm, natural light

Suddenly the Green Heron stood up, stretched out its neck, raised the feathers on its head and appeared to stare up into the sky. It really struck a chord in me because the bird looked funny but I kept photographing it and watched as it hunkered down on the branch. I was curious about what the heron was looking at so I raised my lens to the sky.

Juvenile Broad-winged HawkJuvenile Broad-winged Hawk – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

High overhead I could make out the shape of a raptor that had flown over the Green Heron and realized that the bird was a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk. It is a terrible photo but I kept it so I could remind myself why the heron struck some odd looking poses.

When I go out photographing I go with the thought that I never know what amazing things I might see and those wonderful moments happen more than I can keep track of.

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