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Don’t Mess with the GBH

It’s nesting time now in our protected wetlands, and a really fun time — the biggest and smallest waders are settled into their annual nests (some of them, including the Great Blue Herons, return to the same nests each year). I’m running a bit behind on the nest-building activities, always a fascinating process to watch. But in the meantime, I couldn’t resist this episode that caught me unawares the other evening. I heard a GBH’s croaking cacophony (select the last option in this list — croaking calls, wing noise — for the best example) in one of the usually quiet rookeries. He or she was obviously not very happy.

Great Blue Heron, Florida Wetlands

And the tantrum begins… Echoing through the wetlands

At the time, I couldn’t see the source of torment for the heron, who was probably chasing something away from a newly-created nest. The previous night, a group of GBHs was screaming in another rookery, because an alligator swam too close for comfort to their nests. I didn’t see the gator actually nab anything, but the collective croaking, screaming noise could be heard throughout the wetlands.

As it turns out, an anhinga had the gumption to impede on this heron’s space.

Great Blue Heron, Florida Wetlands

Flushing out the enemy anhinga

The look on the poor anhinga’s face as it’s being flushed out of the rookery is priceless…. Of course I was worried for the poor anhinga: Did he have a nest too, or was he just looking for a comfy spot for the night? Either way, I wish I wasn’t walking onto the scene so suddenly, and had some time to properly prepare for the shot, to include his appalled mug.

Great Blue Heron, Florida Wetlands

Respect the wingspan

And for the Great Blue Heron? Unabashed triumph.

Great Blue Heron, Florida Wetlands

I am queen

69 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow. Great capture lady. Where was this taken?

    Have a nice day.

    Joey

    January 24, 2013
  2. I think you captured it pretty well — even without prep time! I’ve never seen an anhinga, so I didn’t realize how small they were in comparison to the GBH.

    January 24, 2013
    • Thank you!! One should always be prepared here, I guess. But I use this time to relax, too. 🙂

      And you know, the anhingas aren’t small birds, by any means — but compared to the GBHs everything is diminished!

      January 24, 2013
  3. Just stunning. And great reflexes. I think you did a great job capturing the scene too.

    January 24, 2013
    • Ah, thanks so much! I go there primarily to relax, and shooting is definitely a happy and close second… Or perhaps one and the same. 🙂 There’s always so much going on now, it’s great fun.

      January 24, 2013
  4. Pam #

    Great pics and story! Love these birds.

    January 24, 2013
    • Thanks so much! They’re so magnificent… And no messing with ’em!

      January 24, 2013
  5. Beautiful shots Christina! Filling your heart and ours too! 🙂

    January 24, 2013
    • Thanks so much!! Such beautiful creatures… As many times as I see them, I’m in awe of that wingspan. Just magnificent.

      January 24, 2013
      • Indeed! Awesome never gets old. 🙂

        January 24, 2013
  6. Wonderful photos. Your shots are always very intimate.

    January 24, 2013
    • Ah, thanks so very much! That’s quite a compliment…. I feel exceptionally connected to everything — the trees, plants, critters — out there. Some days, more so than others. 🙂

      January 24, 2013
  7. Unparalleled beauty. I wish that I could cuddle this bird.

    January 24, 2013
    • Aren’t they complete magnificence?

      You’d be cuddling something your size, heh heh!! 🙂

      January 24, 2013
      • Awesome! All the better for cuddling!! What lovely birds. Thank you for posting them, and making me aware of their beauty. You are very good at it.

        January 25, 2013
      • Ah, you’re so kind…. THANK you! It’s really hard not to show all these guys in a beautiful way. 🙂

        January 25, 2013
  8. “Respect the wingspan” — LOL

    January 24, 2013
    • Heh… It’s a phenomenal span!

      January 24, 2013
      • The photos were great, too. 🙂

        January 24, 2013
      • Ah, thanks so much… I was just happy to literally trip onto the scene! 🙂

        January 24, 2013
  9. A great series! Don’t feel too bad for the Anhinga. Since you can see its breeding colors, it was likely trying to appropriate the nest for itself. Not a good idea!

    –Wally

    January 24, 2013
    • Exactly — they’re breeding as well. But in hindsight, it was actually the GBH that may have been infringing on the anhinga’s domain — this tends to be an anhinga rookery. I keep looking for a GBH nest there, and don’t see one; I think he was just being a big bully!

      January 24, 2013
      • Yep, big blue CAN be a little assertive! 🙂

        January 24, 2013
  10. Those are gorgeous photos! The details on the feathers and “personality” of the bird are so compelling. Really nice work.

    January 24, 2013
    • Thanks so very much! When they’re in their breeding plumage, they’re especially lovely — all those wonderful feathers flying about. Especially when they get peeved. 🙂

      January 24, 2013
  11. Stunning photos. That poor anhinga, just trying to find a place to sleep 😉 Never seen one before.

    January 24, 2013
    • Thanks so much!! Ah, someone else mentioned not knowing what an anhinga was, and since we have so many here, I’ve never posted ’em! I’ll do so NEXT! 🙂 But in hindsight, this may actually have been the poor anhinga’s rookery, and the GBH was the bully — I still haven’t seen a nest! And the anhingas always hang out here…

      January 24, 2013
  12. that was some lucky encounter, nature at its fullest, greatest… Usually we want to see their habits, routine but never do. You have quite a beautiful set of photos!

    January 24, 2013
    • Thanks so much! It’s amazing what one stumbles across, at a moment’s notice… If the eyes are open. 🙂 Half the time I’m enjoying the sights, relaxing — and forgetting about the camera. So I’m always thrilled to actually *capture* something!

      January 24, 2013
  13. Birds from the Caribbean #

    What a coincidence that I just posted a GBH today too. Great views s on top of that tree with that exotic plumage.

    January 24, 2013
    • Ah, you did! Great minds think alike, hahaha! I can’t wait to check it out… 🙂 I love when they’re in their full breeding plumage — as if they couldn’t get any lovelier.

      January 24, 2013
  14. Wow is right. Stunning photographs. And both are great subjects.

    January 24, 2013
    • Heh, thanks so much! It was funny to witness…. And the cacophony of croaking, oh my! Such a scene.

      January 24, 2013
  15. Loving the action shots – cool:) Have a Great One!

    January 24, 2013
    • Thank you!! It was fun to stumble across these guys (although of course I heard them, first)… Such activity in the wetlands now. 🙂

      Happy early Friday to you!

      January 24, 2013
  16. I didn’t know about anhingas. This one looks prehistoric. Great pics.

    January 24, 2013
    • A few others have mentioned this, not knowing the anhingas… We have so many here, that I’ve failed to post one! Bad me. I’ll be sure to show on up-close VERY soon. 🙂

      Thanks so much….

      January 24, 2013
  17. Great photos and story. I really like the unabashed triumph look.

    January 24, 2013
    • Thanks so much! Heh, that was my favorite as well — and the shots were all taken within a matter of seconds, since I really did stumble upon the scene. So that unabashed triumph was just that… 🙂

      January 24, 2013
  18. What a great and impressive bird. And lucky you with all those interesting, beautiful birds around.

    January 24, 2013
    • They really are complete magnificence… Seeing them in person is something, too — getting a sense of their sheer SIZE.

      This area, and its incredible biodiversity, continues to amaze me. It’s something that we must, MUST protect and preserve.

      January 24, 2013
  19. King of the Mountain standing high in all of his glory.

    January 24, 2013
    • Completely!! Try to challenge…. Just try. 🙂

      January 24, 2013
  20. Wonderful series of photos! It’s incredible to see creatures like that interact!

    January 25, 2013
    • Thanks so much! I’m so often just walking about, enjoying the hikes / walks, that I forget to pick up my camera for such events. 🙂

      January 25, 2013
  21. narhvalur #

    Reblogged this on Ann Novek–With the Sky as the Ceiling and the Heart Outdoors.

    January 25, 2013
  22. Fantastic shots of the nesting GBH! That anhinga looks like he got chased but good!

    January 25, 2013
    • Thanks so much… I wish I wasn’t walking onto it so suddenly! Poor anhinga. He didn’t have a chance with that big boy. 🙂

      January 28, 2013
  23. marialla #

    FANTASTIC PICTURES – FANTASTIC STORY!!
    I TRIED TO GET A CLEAR VIEW OF THE OFFENDING ANHINGA BUT COULD NOT DISTINGUISH IT THROUGH ALL THE “FUR-FUR” SO THE SPEAK!!!

    January 25, 2013
    • Hehehehhe! Thanks so much…. I have some better close-ups of an anhinga that I’ll post soon — they’re not small by any means, but comparatively speaking, against the Great Blue? Tiny! 🙂

      January 28, 2013
  24. beautiful pictures…thanks for sharing them…
    sriram

    January 26, 2013
    • Thanks so much! It’s always a treat to see what’s happening during nesting time…

      January 28, 2013
  25. Wow. Ikaragarria! No words, just one. (Basque for Amazing…I don’t speak Basque but had to work it in.)

    January 26, 2013
    • Hahaha! LOVE IT! So much better than the “amazing” I always use. 🙂

      Thanks so very much — I wish I could say that in Basque. Danke. Merci.

      January 28, 2013
  26. I’ve spotted a few areas where black and yellow crowned night herons roost around here, but I haven’t a clue where the Great Blue are. I see them flying and fishing all the time – I suppose they just come in to work, and then fly home at night – wherever home is!

    The confrontations that always are going on among species are so wonderful – pecking orders don’t belong just to chickens! You’re right about the expression on that anhinga’s face. Priceless.

    January 26, 2013
    • Heh, I still chuckle at it… Poor guy though. I realize now that it’s primarily an anhinga roosting spot, and the GBH was being a bit of a bully! I still haven’t seen an actual nest.

      Down here, the species tend to nest together, it’s interesting — the anhingas and the GBHs, the egrets (various), etc. So perhaps they just wanted to find their own secret spot, away from those lesser herons, hahah!

      January 28, 2013
  27. I wouldn’t want to mess with that bill. There is a rookery somewhere around here that isn’t easily accessible which is a good thing, but I would love to go there..but the wetlands around here are not a good place to walk around in. Fantastic photos…Michelle

    January 26, 2013
    • Thanks so much! You’re ABSOLUTELY right… Good point. That bill is quite a weapon! That, in addition to his size? I’d flee like the dickens, too!! 🙂

      January 28, 2013
      • But they don’t weigh more than 7 pounds. The one we rescued from fishing line in the pond was so light and geese too having rescued them. They are all so fragile in some way…

        January 28, 2013
      • You’re exactly right… Omigosh, poor guy. I SWEAR, fishing line. the irresponsibility of humans. I always wonder, if they had witnessed this scene (the tangled wildlife), would they repeat the tossing of fishing line / nets into their habitat?

        January 29, 2013
  28. Spectacular shots! They really give you a good idea of the size of the birds…and I can just imagine the noise!

    January 27, 2013
    • Thanks so much!

      You’re absolutely right… Anhingas aren’t small birds, by any means. But Great Blues? Huge! And with their wingspans and bills, they can strike quite an imposing figure. And the noise, ah the noise… It’s hysterical. Just coming from this guy, who was bullying a poor anhinga!!

      January 28, 2013
  29. Reblogged this on green adventure.

    February 5, 2013
  30. Those GBHs think they’re kings and queens of the marsh… Lovely photos of one of my fav birds.

    February 10, 2013
    • They REALLY are!!

      Thanks so much…. I have some more images of these guys queued up, I have to get on the ball! 🙂

      February 12, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Heron on House | Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife
  2. Don’t Mess with the GBH – colourmedblog
  3. Home – colourmedblog

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