Grey Heron at the Garden of Phoenix — 5* Pix

(Originally published on August 3, 2017)

Total Shots taken 158
Number of 5 star ratings (5* yield %) 37 (23.4%)

 

There are times when it all comes together – you have a perfect setting, the lighting is great, and you have a perfect subject.  Such was the day that I visited the Garden of the Phoenix, a Japanese garden located just south of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.  A friend had told me about the garden, and since it was close to my home, I walked to the area.  As I entered the garden, I saw what I thought was a statue of a tall greyish bird next to a bird feeder.

Then, the ‘statue’ moved!  It took me a minute, but it slowly dawned on me that this was no statue; it was indeed a live bird!  Suffice it to say that what I thought would be a half hour outing (WHY did I think THAT?), turned into a 1.5 hour one, mostly focused on “the tall bird.”

It turns out that the tall, leggy, greyish bird is a grey heron, drawn to this bird migration and feeding station near Chicago’s lakefront.  Love it!  As you can tell by the numbers (I never rate this many images — 23% — as 5* images!), I had quite a few great images.  I hope you enjoy these 5* selections!

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  • First Sighting: The grey heron was so perfectly still and perfectly placed that I thought it was a statue.  Really did.  When it moved, I was in an initial state of denial, but the photographer in me kicked in quickly as I realized it was a bird I was NOT familiar with, and that it presented a great photographic opportunity.  There is so much to enjoy in this image, including the detailed reflection of the trees on the pond’s surface.  Yay!!!!

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  • Reflections at the Garden of the Phoenix: What a beautiful place!   It is actually fairly close to my home, and I knew about the garden, but didn’t know its formal name, or how to get to it.  It is sandwiched between the Jackson Park Harbor and the Chicago Park District land on Cornell Drive.  Cornell is a relatively busy street, so this is a true respite from the din of the city.

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  • Din-Din: At one point, the grey heron straightened up, leaned forward and stared intently at the water.  It moved slowly, one step at a time, into the water, then stood still.  For what?  I didn’t know until it quickly snapped at the water, and moved back to a more relaxed state, SWALLOWING the small fish that was now caught in its beak.  Success = dinner.

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  • Up Close: The grey heron is a very graceful bird.    I loved this image showing its long, long, neck, with the water sparkling and bubbling in the background, and the yellow eyes and beak, both characteristic of an adult grey heron.   

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  • Stretching Out: Wow!  OK, so while I could tell this was a sizeable bird, I didn’t know that the wings would reveal such a great wingspan.  In my zeal to capture it, I almost missed this unfurling!  I loved it when the wings opened to show the darker grey feathers mostly hidden when the wings are folded close to the body.  The wingspan of a grey heron can be as wide as 77 inches, which is over 6 feet – the bird itself stands up to 39 inches tall.

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  • OK, Done Now: After eating, the grey heron waded across the pond to the grass and rocks.  I loved its elegant movements, lifting its long leg, with its back bending knee like joint, the finger-like claws hanging almost daintily.  The grey heron proceeded to stand still on the bank, returning to its initial statue-like stillness.

I am going to the Garden of the Phoenix again this weekend.  I can’t wait.  Who knows what other birds I might see? Hope you enjoyed this 5* view.

See more outtakes from the outing by following me on Instagram @eyevpointofview.

 

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