Monday, March 23, 2009

Bird Photography Weekly: American Bitterns

One of the birds I was especially looking for on my trip down to San Bernard National Wildlife Reserve last week was the bitterns. We had missed them on my first visit to San Bernard and I was a little unsure of just how and where to find them.

As luck would have it, I came across not one but two bitterns foraging along the edges of Moccasin Pond. The first one was found about a quarter mile into the loop. It was idly wandering around the long grass at the water's edge, seemingly much more interested in a big yellow butterfly that kept flittering nearby than it was in my truck moving slowly down the road.

American Bittern - click to view full-size image on Flickr
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)

American Bittern - click to view full-size image on Flickr
(Click any image to view full-size version)


The second bittern was a bit harder to spot, located among the reeds and grasses at the far end of the pond. He was standing stock-still, having just completed a successful hunting venture.

American Bittern - click to view full-size image on Flickr

After grabbing a few nice shots of this fierce-eyed hunter with his bloody prey dangling from his open bill, I moved slowly along so as not to frighten or disturb him without cause. He must have taken his prize and moved back into the cover of the reeds soon after I left, because none of the folks I talked to later in the morning had spotted this second bird. I guess I was just in the right place at the right time!

For more great bird photos from around the world, check out Bird Photography Weekly #30.

Bird Photography Weekly


Steve Ingraham said...

Excellent. Love Bitterns and they are not easy to photograph. Well done.

Bob and Cynthia Kaufman said...

You were certainly lucky to get not one, but two American Bitterns! These birds are so hard to find, much less photograph in the open.

MaineBirder said...

Awesome images Kyle! Love the last photo.

Eric Ripma said...

Awesome Bittern shots. I really like the one with the snake.

Lynne said...

FABULOUS photos Kyle!! It would be a lifer for me.

KatDoc said...

Wow! Awesome bittern photos, Kyle!

I'm impressed, especially the second bird, with the snake. Cool!

Larry Jordan said...

Gorgeous captures of the American Bitterns Kyle! These birds are so difficult to find but almost always along the edges of the pond or waterway, totally camouflaged in the reeds. I have yet to be able to photograph one but I keep trying to find a promising subject.

You are right about the "stock still" aspect they portray. If you are able to find them, they often freeze so as not to be detected.

Congrats on the lifer! And thanks for sharing it with us!

Kelly said... nice bittern photos. Perfect timing with the snake!!

Christopher said...

I have to agree with everyone else - these are spectacular shots of a bird that is difficult to see, much less photograph! And really, how often dees somebody get shots like this of a life bird?
Really nice!

The Early Birder said...

Excellent images Kyle. I've seen a few Bitterns in the UK over the years but never been able to get close enough for a decent photo. These made my day. Cheers Frank.

2sweetnsaxy said...

These are absolutely amazing! What awesome captures.

Vickie said...

These are amazing photos, Kyle. I've heard these guys but never yet seen one!