Stalking Grey Herons

exploring the stalking style of young herons

Time was on our side on these leisurely strolls on Cocoa Beach. depending on the weather, tides and the direction chosen, we encountered Herons.

Here is a series of meetings with two individuals, both young. For the stills the larger approached from the north, working the surf. I experimented with standing very still with minimal hand/arm motions. Intent on the food search, this heron approached steadily without apprehension…..

Until a distance of eight feet, then it stopped hunting proceeding at a slightly faster, though stately pace, to approach no more than four feet away. I chose a position in the surf, the Heron needed to either fly over or approach between myself and the final break of the waves. There is a sand bar near shore where the wave break, then continue to break again.

In approaching from the south, here in the norther hemisphere, the sun was to my back until the heron passed when the photographs changed from somewhat backlit, never in the full sun because this is the east coast of Florida, morning. On passing the photographs have a pronounced back lit aspect.

Here is brief video of a fully lit not fully grown individual at the prime time for photography, the evening golden hour with sun in the west.

I positioned closer this time, it is wary throughout the clip. It is possible to feel the strength of the surf, the slow unhurried pace of each stride.

Click for “Surfing Grey Herons,” the first series posting.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

26 thoughts on “Stalking Grey Herons

    1. Good question, Theresa. From analysis of the file timestamps, 2 minutes passed between the first and last photos of the first series. The post title is misleading, it is the herons that stalked. Need to improve that title. We encountered the herons on long walks, either they were there or not and, if there, I avoided harassing the birds by not approaching them (they approached me for the photos) and limiting the time of the encounters.

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    1. During our longer hikes we spent hours walking 5 – 10 miles, encountering the herons and other wildlife was a added benefit to the exercise. From the timestamps of the photograph series, 2 minutes passed. I don’t spend much time in front of the birds, to avoid harassing them.

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    1. The beach herons are accommodated to humans who do not approach close, even when you stare at them. For the herons here in the Finger Lakes, only a blind and then, only if the slightest movement (of the lens, for example) is not detected. Well, a blind and a very long lens with an location with an long unobstructed view…that will work. These are very wary.

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  1. Those photos are wonderful and so are the birds. I spent 16 days on a beach on that coast too
    and how the Herons and the delightful little Sandpipers made the walks special. Have taken many photos and short films of them.
    Some things always stays with you, that beach is one of them


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  2. Michael, your patience and diligence has paid off with these wonderful images of the heron – I cannot believe how closer you came to them. They are majestic in their walk, almost mindful yet alert. I love the video at the end which gives a real feeling to the whole setting, sounds.

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