Great Blue Heron
In my last featured image, I claimed that there was arguably no more universal symbol of wilderness and solitude than the loon. In this installment, I'm going to claim that the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is the universal symbol of wetland wildlife. Arguably of course.
One major difference between loons and heron is the fact that heron seem to tolerate human presence much better than loons. As a result, heron can often be seen in urban settings such as parks, river banks, and of course, lakes. Don't expect that you can approach heron closely though. They'll quickly fly off to a safe distance.
As you might expect, heron are very protective parents. If you approach one of their massive nests, which can usually be found perched on top of a dead tree near a water body, they will be sure to display their displeasure with cries that will remind you of the Pteradactyls in Jurassic Park. Expect to have to photograph heron from a distance, and give nesting families plenty of room for their comfort and safety.
If you have a canoe or kayak, finding a heron and getting close enough to admire it will be easier than by land. Heron can be difficult to spot though, because when they stand still, their thin profile and coloration makes them look remarkably like a piece of driftwood. A spotting scope or binoculars will help tremendously. Look along the edges of waterbodies where they can be found hunting for small fish, just like the one pictured above.
For the Shutterbugs:
"Great Blue Heron" was created with my Nikon F4 camera, and 300mm F4.0 lens, handheld from a canoe. Film - Kodak E100VS, ISO 100. Exposure: approximately f5.6 at 1/500th of a second. Be sure that when you are around water with your camera equipment, you store it in a waterproof container (bag or case). Modern camera equipment is generally useless after being submerged in water.