Great Blue Heron With A Snack
I photographed this Great Blue Heron back in February 2014. It was west of the Tuff boat ramp at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.
It had been spearing larger shad but as the morning was getting late it started spearing these smaller minnows.
Photographing these birds spearing larger fish is great, but I am amazed that they are able to spear these smaller ones. They do miss a few but not very often.
Herons locate their food by sight and usually swallow it whole. I read these birds can choke on prey that is too large. I have never seen one choke but I have seen one trying to swallow a fish (Freshwater Drum) that was too large. It had to carry it to shore to try to swallow it. It did finally give up on it.
I photographed a Great Blue Heron a couple of weeks ago catching shad in this same area. (Great Blue Heron Catching Shad On A Windy Day)
It was windy on that day and the wind was creating large waves. The Heron had no problems locating and catching shad.
How I Got The Shot - Great Blue Heron
I spotted this bird while driving on the tour road. I like to wait for the bird to zero in on a fish and then move as close as I can, if I notice the Heron getting nervous I will stop until it relaxes. This was early in the morning so the sun was in the East. My pickup is facing west, so I had good side lighting. I don't park straight out from the bird but at an angle to get good light. Sometimes I will get lucky and the Herons will stay in one small area which makes it easy for me. If they move where the light is not good then I will take a chance and move my pickup. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't.
I was using a Canon EOS 7D and a Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS USM lens. I was shooting in aperture priority mode (AV) with a shutter speed of 1/800 of a second at f7.1 and the ISO at 640. I also had a -1.0 exposure value because the sun was bright (09:00 am). White Balance was set on auto. I was using single point, continuous auto focus with evaluative metering.