Monday, January 24, 2011

Great blue heron at sunset

Great blue heron at Sunset -- Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

We were looking to stretch our legs a bit last evening, but it was too late to go anywhere interesting in Marin, so we decided to check in on the burrowing owls at the Berkeley Marina. We saw two owls, and some other people that we talked to there said that there are as many as four reported in the park. However, right when we got to the park, this great blue heron was hunting rodents in the middle of the playing fields, and I ended up spending most of the good light left in the day on it.

Focused hunter -- Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

The bird was pretty easy to approach since it was focused on the many gopher holes that cover the fields. We found a nice position and sat down in the grass with it. A handful of times it became very focused on a certain spot and appeared to get ready to strike, but the rodents were lucky this time, since we didn't get to see it catch anything. Eventually, it was spooked by the firing of a bottle rocket and it flew away.

Sunset heron -- Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

I was excited about the potential of the setting, since the grass is starting to get some height to it. That meant that if I lowered the tripod so that the camera was maybe 6-8 inches off the ground, I could capture a bit of the sea of green around the heron. In the bottom two shots, I really like how the out of focus grass took on a painted quality, with the bunches looking a bit like brush strokes.


  1. Awesome pictures. That grass is so cool it looks photoshopped.

  2. Great serie, the light is so nice on this heron ;)

  3. Pat, those shots are unreal. The grass setting is simply amazing. Stunning work.

  4. Thanks, Scott! I was excited to try working in the tall grass, and I think the effect came out pretty nice. Nothing too special to do it -- just enough grass in between the lens (that was just a few inches off the ground) and the heron.

    Thanks, Dominic! It was a beautiful sunset that night!

    Thanks, Tory! The electric green grasses growing right now give a nice chance to try something different than the browns of summer.

  5. Not only are your pictures wonderful, I loved getting to learn that herons hunt rodents. I thought they were strictly eaters of water-dwellers.

  6. These are really sweet shots Pat. The bokeh is fabulous with the blue up top and the green, partially in focus below. Gorgeous! Plus you got to see some of my favorite raptors, the Burrowing Owls! A nice glass of Cabernet would top off that evening for me.

  7. Gorgeous light and a great looking bird. Spectacular shots Pat!


  8. Wow. What gorgeous shots, so beautifully composed. I've seen blues on short grass, but I guess those long legs are good for more than deep water!

  9. fantastic shots, and an excellent site