Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Upon Closer Inspection

It seems as though fowl of all sorts are filling my camera lens this month, first the eagles, and then today the egrets were back.  As I've mentioned before in other posts about Great Egrets, they are skittish birds who rarely stay put if they see me coming with my scary big telephoto lens, but this one allowed me a few shots before gracefully flying off to fish in another part of the creek.

The egrets are as elusive as they are shy, so, unlike the Great Blue Herons that fill the creek year round, we are always happy to see an egret or two perched on an old dead tree that fell into the water along our property line.  Because they are so private, we can go weeks and even months without seeing one, yet every time I see one outside our window I feel like it's the first time I've borne witness to these elegant birds.

I still kick myself for not getting pictures a few months ago when we passed by a marshy area on our way up to DC.  We were rushing to get there so that I could get some photos in the city before the sun set, so we drove on by what I now assume was an incredibly unusual sight, at least in our neck of the woods.  There were dozens of egrets walking about in this mucky marsh, on their annual migration to where I don't know.  I should have known better than to let a photographic opportunity slip by, especially since I know that you rarely see that many grouped together. I hope they will be back next year so that I can make up for my lapse in wildlife photography judgement!

After snapping a few shots of this particular egret earlier today, I came inside to see if I had gotten anything worth keeping.  I didn't notice it at first, but upon closer inspection I noticed something different about his/her beak.  At first I just assumed it was part of a crab or fish I had caught him munching on, but then I realized that the beak was quite literally broken off.  Egrets, like most shore birds, have long slender and very pointy beaks to help them catch their prey.

This egret seemed none the worse for wear having lost quite a bit of his beak, but I had to wonder what sort of fight might have caused the damage in the first place?  Maybe a fight over a mate, though that would have been quite the fight.  I guess it will remain a mystery, one only the egret can share with the other egrets as they sit around cracking crabs and drinking saltwater.

Sometimes slowing down and taking a closer look has it's rewards.


  1. They really are beautiful, Kat. I'm so glad you got some shots of this one. I have seen them in Florida, but not one as large as this. What an amazing sight when you spotted the group of them! An egret party?


  2. Beautiful photos, seems much larger than the ones I have seen here...

  3. Oh, I see it's beak now. I'm glad you got some good photos and if you saw this particular egret again, you would recognize it. I'm enjoying your pics this week!

  4. My guess is trying to get some shellfish open. Beautiful nonetheless ~

  5. Awesome and fast photography, Kat!! Perfectly framed :) I would never have noticed the broken beak. Hope it will be okay. This is one of my favorite shots!!

  6. Next time you head to Alexandria, go south down the parkway and keep your eyes open on either side just immediately south of Old Town, along Little Hunting Creek and before Belle Haven Country Club on the right---there are always lots of egrets sitting in the trees or wading in the shallows with the herons. Beautiful, glowing, and snowy white!

  7. Are your egrets shy Kat? California egrets must be more gregarious, they sit on our railings to sun themselves after poddling for dinner!

    Stunningly beautiful images ~

  8. so perfect- almost looks unreal, what a talent Kat!


  9. Kelly J/Hunters HillSeptember 24, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    I LOVE these photos !!

  10. Gosh I did not even notice the beak until you mentioned it. I was focused on that amazing white plummage. xo ~Lili


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