Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Egret Fishing

The One That Didn't Get Away
Snowy Egret - Wiggins Pass
Naples, FL

"All men are equal before fish."
--Herbert Hoover

I've been spending lots of time in the kayak so far this summer, working on new photo inventory for next season. Boy, is this a fun job! I get to spend a lot of time with my bird friends, who never fail to crack me up.

This young adult was polishing his fishing skills in a strong outgoing tide with lots of bait on the surface along the south side of Wiggins Pass. Now, if you don't know snowy egret personality very well, let me tell you that these are persistent birds who can be very territorial and really cranky when other birds come to fish nearby. He'd already chased off two other snowy egrets, a pelican and even a great white egret with great flaps of wings and a lot of irritated vocals. Cranky persistence all the way.

He caught quite a few small "shiners" - little bait fish - as I photographed him. I call those fish "one gulpers" because they go from the water to the bird gullet in one fast gulp. But this fish - well, this one really tested his skills. Much, much larger than the one gulpers, he just couldn't quite figure out how to swallow it whole. He tossed it into the air (and caught it again), he came up onto shore, dropped it, and pecked at it a few times, and he even nearly lost it when it managed to wiggle out of that scary sharp beak once over the water.

This shot caught the last flip in the air before it aligned perfectly and he managed to swallow it down. In the millisecond of a shutter release, fish and bird looked at each other in midair in that tiny space in his beak. And then...poof...gone.

One minute, you're swimming with the gang and the next minute you're lunch. It's can be a dangerous world out there.

Current Designs Kestrel Kayak, Nikon D2x, Nikkor 80-400mm VR

No comments: