Much of my heron photo collection is of them hunting for their lunch as they stand at the water’s edge. However, I do occasionally get photos of them in flight. Now I like most things that fly but I do think that the heron is not the most elegant bird when it is flying. The long outstretched neck works for a swan or a goose but, for a heron, it seems rather out of balance. With the large wings, it is an efficient flyer but it doesn’t have the look of a bird that is having an easy time of it. This one was heading across Juanita Bay and over the the shore where another heron had been hanging out and, as is the way of wildlife, it was determined to drive the other bird away whether it needed to or not!
I was down in Juanita Bay with mum during her visit when the sound of a helicopter came towards us. I managed to switch a few of the settings to get things mostly write although not the exposure. However, RAW is quite forgiving these days. It was the King County Sheriff’s JetRanger that was making a tour of Juanita Bay for some reason. They were pretty low as they buzzed by and then circled around to the north side of the bay and disappeared. Not sure why they came that way – maybe they know someone there?
When I lived in the UK, I don’t remember seeing dragonflies at all. They may well have been there but I didn’t notice them. Moving to the US, there were dragonflies all of the place and I was immediately fascinated by them. Of course, over time, I got used to them being everywhere so stopped paying attention. However, when I have visitors from the UK, they are taken with them in the same way I originally was.
When mum was here, we went down to Juanita Bay to have a look around. It was a lot hotter than it had been on any of my previous visits and it was also popular with bugs. I got bitten a few times which has never happened there before. I guess the bugs meant the dragonflies were happy and we saw plenty of them. Here are a few shots I got of them when they landed. I have yet to get anything useful of them while flying. They are quite tricky to track!
There is a log in the water in Juanita Bay that is just above the surface. It provides a good spot for the eagles to land when they want a drink and need to clean themselves. It is a bit far from the viewing platforms but you still get a good look at them as they rest and sort themselves out. Watching wildlife do things like this seems perfectly normal but, I think law enforcement might be involved if it were humans!
This heron was standing around on Juanita Bay when mum and I were there. It wasn’t showing any sign of hunting so I assume it had already eaten well. The sun was out and it was pretty hot so, after a little preening, the heron adopted a pose I had not seen before. It opened out its wings and faced the sun. I couldn’t work out whether this was a position designed to absorb the sun’s rays or whether it provided a mechanism for cooling by maximizing the surface area exposed. Whichever it is, it was curious. I also shot some video of the bird which is below.
I am no specialist on fish (or any other wildlife for that matter) so, if I have got this wrong, please feel free to correct me in the comments. I was down at Juanita Bay seeing what wildlife was out an about. I was on one of the boardwalks and looking in to the water to see if there was anything in there. I saw a black mass seeming to pulse and move. I was confused as to what it might be but the long lens gave me a clearer view of things. It was a massive amount of baby fish.
My previous disclaimer comes in to effect here. I think they were catfish based on the shape of the mouth and the barbs but that could be totally wrong. Let’s assume for now that they were. There was hundreds of them, if not thousands. They were moving around furiously but staying closely packed together for safety. The group would gradually move around and migrate through the plant life. Occasionally, a group would split off into a second section and then later they would somehow find each other again and regroup. They looked almost alien as they swirled and moved. I did take stills, as you can clearly see, but video seemed like the better way to convey the impression that they left.
I had to do some research when I got home to make sure I knew what this was. I saw the head in the water as it swam around but it was at a similar time to when I saw a mink. Consequently, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at when. A little use of Google later and I was able to confirm that this was indeed a muskrat. They look very small when swimming since they are almost completely submerged. Once out of the water, they look a lot more substantial, and that tail is very distinctive.
He climbed out on to a branch that was floating in the water. It looked like someone else had previously been on the branch judging by the droppings that were there, and these didn’t seem to bother him much. Maybe they were his from a previous visit. A quick trip along the branch and back and then it was back into the water. Another time I saw one, the same routine of walking along the branch and back was repeated so maybe it was the same one?
The eagles that live around Juanita Bay are busy hunters. However, hunting requires a load of effort and it is surely easier to steal someone else’s meal. An otter had caught a fish and climbed on to one of the buoys that mark the protected area of the bay to eat it. As it got close to finishing, one of the eagles swooped in and grabbed the remainder of what it had. The otter didn’t seem too bothered so maybe it had eaten the best of the meal and was okay to let the eagle take it without a fight. The eagle went to the osprey perch and then ate whatever was left.
If you stand by Juanita Bay for a few minutes, you will see fish leaping out of the water periodically. The carp are spawning and they leap out all the time. Getting a shot of a leaping fish seems like it would be almost impossible since you couldn’t know where they would be leaping next and getting lined up would not be possible in the tiny instant that they are out of the water even if you did see them immediately. However, there is some hope.
For some reason, the fish will often leap twice in roughly the same place. However, they only seem to do it when you are not training your camera on the spot where they last came out. I will watch with the camera down and see them jump again and again. Bring the camera up and they don’t play ball – normally. However, I did get lucky on one occasion. I got a second leap as I pointed the camera at the location of the previous ripples.
I had an even better chance on a later date. I was staring down into the water and could see the shape of a carp as it swam just below the surface. I didn’t know whether it would be possible to get a clear shot of it in the water but started tracking it anyway. Then it turned and came out of the water right below me. I couldn’t have been better placed to get the shot. I’ll take a good dose of luck any time.