Friday, August 19, 2011

Least Bittern: hunting at Holcim Wetlands-CO

I returned 4 days ago to Holcim Wetlands before 7 am to try to refind the rare Least Bittern and hopefully get some pics in good light. Though I succeeded, the bittern was much more distant than when I photographed it last week in the evening (at least a hundred feet out). However, I was able to get postable pics of it engaged in classic bittern hunting as is shown in the two pics. Note that it is 'perched' by straddling cattail shoots, a feet made possible by their small size, allowing it to strike downward at prey in the water below. Gee-these pics are almost identical though the sun was out in the bottom pic but not in the top pic (the top pic was taken at F10 while the bottom pic at F8 as a result). Actually these show a progression, a very, very slow progression of the hunt--look closely and you will see that the bird's bill in the 2ndh pic is a few inches forward of and below the position in the 1st pic. So what? The 2nd pic was taken 3 minutes after the 1st pic, demonstrating the extreme patience these bitterns take in their hunting behavior, stalking their prey for clearly long periods before striking downward to grab some tasty insect, small fish, or frog. SeEtta