The other day, I was walking in Utterslev Mose when I saw a heron fly down a canal, in the direction of the main path. When I got there, on the small bridge, I couldn’t find it! I hadn’t seen it fly away, so I was a bit surprised, but that was nothing compared to the moment when I realized it had in fact landed a mere three meters from the bridge; I was looking for it much farther! So here I was, standing on a bridge, basically on a bike lane, with a young heron hunting near the bank a few meters away. Fortunately, few people were in the vicinity, so the bird was far from frightened, and I was not at a too high risk of being trampled by a careless biker.
I slowly approached the other side of the bridge, and literally lay on the wet planks, trying to get the right shot. Pedestrians going around probably found it ridiculous, but that’s something I learnt a photographer should not mind about, so I just went on. Nothing existed in my world anymore, except for a camera in my hands and a heron, standing in the water.
You can see it’s a young individual from the grey forehead, and the not-so-well defined head patterns. This was an amazing encounter, one doesn’t get so many occasions to be close to these quiet birds. The excitement was only tarnished by the poor light: the sky was overcast but still bright, and the heron was between me and the sun. This gave me trouble in post production. After taking a sizable amount of pictures, I tried to get to the shore, to have another angle on the bird (in bird photography, always try to make eye-level shots), but it flew away instantly.
This happened near the purple dot. Afterwards, I visited the third lake (blue dot), where people were feeding ducks and gulls last time. No feeder this time (good, duck feeding is extremely harmful to the environment; DON’T do it!), but a lot of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and Tufted ducks (Aythya fuligula). I decided to sit on the rocks lining the shore, and while ducks fled me at first, a family of six swans approached. I was startled, and a bit anxious too; I remember my mom warning me against these birds, presumably aggressive. These ones were as kind as one can be, they just wanted to know whether I had something to offer, so they came to me and waited. They left soon, but before that, they showed me how they filter water: they simply put the tip of their bill in the water, and clap it, creating a funny noise and a lot of bubbles.
While I was on the first row for the show, I also shot drops of water lying on their white and dense plumage. I was so close that those turned into something closer to abstract art than to bird photography.
As I sat there, ducks grew accustomed to me, and started to get closer. That made up for great pics of Tufted ducks. Looks at this bad boy!
Another heron (an adult this time, see the white forehead) landed on the shore, shining in the sunset light. The beginning of my walk saw the sun hiding behind a persistent haze, but as it got closer to the horizon, it slipped under the clouds, warming my heart and illuminating the birds.
When I was thinking about a title for this post, this one popped into my mind. Stand Still, Stay Silent. Not only does it sound grandiose, and fit perfectly the hunting habits of herons, it is also the title of a wonderful, visually stunning web-comic drawn by the young and talented Minna Sundberg. In a post-apocalyptic Scandinavia, a group of “terribly unqualified” adventurers sets off for lost books. I won’t tell more about the story or the universe, but I strongly recommend you to take a look. I was hooked from the beginning, and I wouldn’t be surprised should the same happen to you.
The only flaw of this series? Well, it’s a work in progress, with updates on weekdays. There’s plenty to read already, so don’t shy away and dive into this dark and fascinating world.
You can consider this as the inauguration of my page “Remarkable people”. I know some of you have already noticed it, but until now, it had remained empty.
There I want to advertise people I admire. Photographers, bloggers, artists of any kind… that’s my contribution 🙂 I need to take some time, between articles, to add more people there; I’ll let you know, don’t worry.
Back to business. On my way home, I witnessed another breathtaking sunset, and met some extra-terrestrial space-craft stranded along the highway. I did not see the inhabitants, though.
BONUS: sometimes herons do not stand still and do not stay silent.