10.22.17: Second grab

Great Egret tossing a fish before eating, Slate Run Metro Park, Canal Winchester, Ohio.


Technical information

May 24, 2015,
9:45 a.m.

39°45’31” N,
82°52’1" W
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Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm) 


1/1250th second


Standing at the edge of a wetlands area or beside a lake and watching an egret or heron hunt for food is extremely relaxing. 

The bird remains motionless for a long period of time as it watches fish swim nearby. When it makes a choice from the watery menu, the bird begins the almost imperceptible process of lowering its head before striking quickly to catch a fish. 

It will hold the fish in its beak for a few minutes, occasionally tossing it in the air and re-catching it to position it before swallowing. Then it returns to the methodical hunt.

I found this Great Egret hunting in the wetlands in Slate Run Metro Park southeast of Columbus, Ohio. It missed on several strikes before catching this small fish. I grabbed some photos as it displayed the fish before tossing it in the air.

I liked how the white egret stood out against the grassy green background and how the bird’s faint reflection is visible in the water in the foreground.

An egret's eye-beak coordination is incredible. The fish is wriggling in the air, trying to elude the bird, but this egret caught it on each of the four or five tosses before grabbing it in the right position for swallowing.

Great Egrets are large birds, slightly smaller and slimmer than the Great Blue Heron. The Great Egret was hunted to near extinction in the late 1800s because of the popularity of their plumes in fashion. This led to conservation efforts and creation of some of the first laws to protect bird populations

The Great Egret is also the symbol of the National Audubon Society.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.