NATURE’S VIEW: Within striking distance

Story and photography by Jim Clark

For nature photographers, how exhilarating it is to capture that defining moment as a great blue heron strikes the water? Even better is photographing a full sequence of a great egret stalking its prey and then plunging its bill and neck into the water to seize the prize.

Wading birds come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, and each species use specific hunting strategies to gather a bite to eat; ornithologists have even described 35 types of feeding behaviors wading birds use (see a list in a sidebar to this article).

Understanding how each species of wading bird feeds helps the nature photographer to photograph those amazing moments. Combine this knowledge with time in the field, and the photographer will become more and more successful at recording that special “striking” moment.

A great blue heron is about to swallow its prey after tossing and catching it midair. This image was photographed on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. ©  Jim Clark

Here are some feeding strategies of a few wading birds I photograph at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia: Continue reading