2016—Taking Shape

I spent close to an hour on our last afternoon at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida hoping to capture the elusive, for me anyway, egret heart formed by the two egrets bending their necks and facing each other when the male returned to the nest with a stick to present to his mate.  I did manage to get a couple of so-so hearts on other days (previously posted in this blog) but just not the heart shape I was looking for.  Knowing that I was determined to try for the heart, Moose directed me to an active pair of great egrets and helped me set up for the shot.  This pair was in great light with few distractions around them but they rarely left the nesting area.  Twice, one bird, the male I suspect, flew off and returned to the female with a stick but the male’s back was to the camera and his outspread wings hid both their heads.  The rest of the time, they preened and performed what I suspect was a modified courting ritual.  I reviewed hundreds of shots I took of the pair, every one in focus I might add.   Nothing even resembling a heart was in this group of photos.  At first I was disappointed but then I realized that, while there are no hearts in this group, and the egrets are not facing each other in any of the shots, the shapes their white bodies created against the dark background are beautiful in their own way.  They almost  appear as if they share one body.  I think these photographs give hints to the bond that these great egrets share.

In the first shot, I had the 1.4X teleconverter attached to the lens so in effect, I was shooting at 850mm.  I removed the teleconverter because I was afraid that if they performed the elaborate courtship dance I would be too close and part of the birds’ bodies would be out of the frame.   They never did perform that dance I was waiting for.  Maybe they were past that stage of their relationship.

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