I know I say this a lot, but it still bears repeating. When you have a good thing going on, milk it for all it is worth. Don’t feel like you have all the photos you can get after 20 minutes, keep at it. This is especially important with wildlife. First of all, the great opportunities don’t come around every day. Secondly, as you spend more time with them, wildlife gets even more at ease with you and will eventually ignore you showing you all kinds of wonderful behaviors. This was what happened today.
It started when I first saw this great Tricolored Heron. It was actively fishing in the small pools left behind by the tides. The fish trapped in these pools may have avoided the predatory fish of the ocean, but they had to contend with this hungry heron instead. I lost track of how many fish the heron consumed while I was photographing it.
When I started, the light was pretty lackluster. Gradually the dense overcast sky began to open up but I was on the wrong side of the bird. A long crawl through the mud around to the other side of the bird was worth it. If you have to get around a bird, even a cooperative one like this, you have to make a wide circle around it instead of just crossing to where you want to go.
The light was fantastic. The weather couldn’t make up its mind. It kept going from thick cloud cover, sometimes with a little bit of rain, to opening up to allow a few beams of light in. This is some of the most dramatic lighting that you can find. Changes in lighting are yet another reason to spend some time with a subject.
In the end, the array of behaviors from this one bird was great. Hundreds of photos of it hunting for fish, striding through the water, posing for classic portraits, preening, fluffing its feathers, and flight shots. All this from a single bird over the course of an hour and a half. When you move from subject to subject you just don’t get these kind of possibilities. So next time spend some time with a good subject and you’ll be sure to be rewarded for your patience.