A male great blue heron brings a branch for the nest to his mate; best viewed in the largest sizes. I don't know if this was an experienced pair or not. The first two days I watched them, the male had a much tougher time breaking a branch off the tree. By the third day, he was bringing branches much more quickly. The herons do not make the nest out of branches that have fallen. They fly to another treetop and pull and tug until they are able to break a branch off. I watched one heron work for an hour without successfully managing to break a branch. By the third day, this fella had learned that smaller branches were easier to break off and was regularly bringing his mate these smaller branches. The first two days I watched them, he tended to bring larger branches that were usually forked. Then they would have a tough time incorporating those bigger ones into the nest. It seemed to me that the male learned a lot the first couple of days.
While the male was gone from the nest, the female would stand on the nest, work on the nest or simply nap. However, each time, just before he would return, she would suddenly extend her neck feathers and stretch out her neck looking at something I could not see and, then, there he would be. I learned to get ready to take a shot of him whenever she started assuming that pose. Here, she still has the neck feathers stuck out. Several folks have asked about the crop. The image is cropped but it is not a really big crop. I just cropped out other branches in the tree on both sides. I used a 400mm lens which brings the birds in pretty close. It is an f4.0 lens and I've found I need really good light in order to avoid noise at high shutter speeds, which I use to accommodate the rapid movement of birds. All of the days I photographed these birds (about six - eight hours over three days) were quite bright. On the day this was shot, it was sort of overcast and the sky was whitish-blue. On other days the sky was bright blue --- such as with the shot yesterday. I used this lens all the time except when I was trying to capture flying birds and for that, I found I needed to be further back from the birds in order to deal with their rapid speed. I shot a lot of these at 1/320th of a second. I still have hundreds of these shots to process, but, as I do so I am putting them into a gallery called "Great Blue Herons" which is under the category of "Animals."
Boy, I just noticed that my other blue heron shot is #1. That sure makes my day. Thanks, everyone, who commented on the shot. And, have a great Sunday!
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