Yesterday's Quick Shot post discussed my recent visit to Mason Neck State Park, where I took the new Nikon 80-400mm lens for a spin and spent some time photographing a Blue Heron who was very friendly.
During the hour I spent photographing this Blue Heron, I had a chance to witness a variety of behaviors from this fascinating bird. As the afternoon gave way to evening, the heron set out on the task of fishing for his dinner in the marshland. Before bowing his head to snatch a fish, the heron would spend a few seconds with his head cocked sideway looking into the water to track his pray. After watching this pattern a few times, I was able to time my images to hit the split second reflex as he dove his beak into the water, grabbed a fish, and then swallowed.
With the super fast focus and sharpness of the new Nikon 80-400, I was able to rattle off a series of prints of this lighting fast meal. Shown by themselves, however, the images lacked context and were confusing. As a result, I built a triplet of three photos together depicting the sequence of events to catch dinner.
The first image (from left to right) depicts the heron as he scouts his snack; the second image is right as the heron reaches to grab the fish (look at the tongue!); the third image is after he sucked the fish into his mouth. Moments later, he turned his head upwards and began to swallow the fish whole.
Unfortunately, I can't see the fish in any of these images, but this area of the marsh has few large fish. Most of these fish are only an inch or two long, and considering the speed with which they are sucked into that bill, it's not surprising that I can't see it!
Photo taken with the Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm lens, edited in Photoshop CS6 and black and white conversion done in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.