Great White Egrets

On 22 December 2014 I spent the afternoon at Yasugawa near my home. A chilly southwest wind and a clear sky made the winter light very nice.

At first there was no activity besides a few crows and a kingfisher that flew along the river and disappeared in some bushes along the bank. For over an hour I saw only some sparrows and wagtails, a couple of Eurasian wigeons, and a Northern shoveler.

I was thinking about leaving when I saw some great white egrets (Egretta alba) about 150 meters upstream. As I was focusing my lens, the birds flew away. Then I saw five of them circling overhead. I remained motionless, and four of them landed in the river right in front of me.

As one of the egrets walked toward me, it nearly filled the frame of my viewfinder as it turned and faced south.

Two stood closely together, also facing south for a while.

As the sky became overcast, they flew over to the Yasu side of the river, where some cormorants and herons were standing. One stayed behind for a few minutes and finally flew to join the other birds.

When I left my house, I was determined to make video recordings of the kingfisher that I’d photographed the day before (Kingfisher in Flight). I saw the kingfisher briefly, but it did not go to its its hunting spot.

The great white herons were a wonderful surprise. The few that remain in this area usually stay very close to the riverbank, too far away to photograph. Once again nature has blessed me and rewarded patient vigilance with great and unexpected beauty.

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