The Great Blue Harbinger of Summer

111015031 rev 4 MAY 13  Great Blue Heron

I received a call the other day from a friend telling me that the resident Great Blue Heron was back at Westlake Park on the west side of Santa Cruz.  I’ve been photographing this heron for several years now and he has been a great model at the right price.  In other words, free.  I’m always happy when this heron returns because he brings with him no doubt that summer is almost here on Monterey Bay.

This particular heron likes to spend much of his time standing on a platform in the middle of the park’s little lake watching for the bluegills and other small fish to come by so that he  can snatch a tasty fish dinner (or breakfast or lunch, etc.).  The heron shares the lake with several breeds of ducks, geese, coots and a relatively uncommon green-backed heron (more on this in another blog).

The nice thing about this particular heron’s favorite place is that it is relatively easy to photograph.  Essentially, he poses, I set up my camera and expose the film (or sensor).  He seems to have endless patience and stands for long periods of time just waiting for that morsel to swim by.  It’s amazing how fast he moves to catch that fish.

The Great Blue Heron is native to a large portion of North and Central America and part of South America.  Besides their seemingly endless patience, one of the most surprising things about them are their nesting habits.  They nest in tall trees like our local cypress.  The colonies can be well over 100 nests and, although the Elkhorn Slough colony is much smaller, it’s still impressive to see such large water birds nesting in the tops of the trees.

Welcome home, heron, and thanks for bringing summer with you.


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