Green heron lurking in the shadows.
Last Sunday, I opted to spend the day at Wildwood Lake, in search of green herons. This heavily-trafficked nature park is just north of Harrisburg, PA. Green herons are extremely entertaining water birds. They employ several different hunting strategies which include spearing fish from a perch, stalking the shallows for frogs and minnows and, on a few occasions, they’ve even been documented using live bait (such as tiny insects) to lure fish in.
This is my favorite species of wading bird, and it is so easily overlooked, or simply not noticed as a result of it’s small stature and stealthy movement. Not only are they extremely intelligent and unique in their hunting styles, but green herons are truly striking creatures, with their green wings and heads, contrasting maroon necks and white chests. Encounter one in a beautiful location, and you have a photographer’s wet dream.
The entire trail which encircles the lake (wetland) is nearly 5 miles long, but rather than walk it, I spent hours jumping back and forth between these two herons. Fortunately, they were less than 100 yards away from each-other, enabling me to spend the majority of the time watching (and of course photographing) these two beauties, rather than simply traveling between them.
They chose to spend the entire day in the canal, which is on the far side of the trail from the actual lake. There seemed to be an overwhelming number of small fish trapped in this area (presumably from recent flooding), which afforded some great hunting opportunities. They each must have caught over a hundred minnows, forcing one to ponder how many of such small morsels are needed to sate their ravenous appetites.