Why I Missed Half of Dancing with the Stars Last Week

Why I Missed Half of Dancing with the Stars Last Week

My fave photographer Bill Maroldo and I went off to Surfside (again) on a Monday. We have been having some rain; the wading birds are busy and some of our winter visitors are showing up. Curlews and Ospreys were high on our list. We had planned to leave no later than 5:30 pm to get back because of my guilty pleasure, Dancing with the Stars. And it was a productive day; we found our targets, plus got some Loggerhead Shrike photos, and even some interesting shore birds. We had checked out the puddle at the Quintana Jetty and were  just past the Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary heading home and ... Bill suddenly pulled off the road and stopped.

Look there!

I am scanning the razor wire of the fence thinking he spotted a Kestral and I see nothing. 

No, there. Down against the fence.

He is not mad, they always look like that - Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/5.6 1/400 sec ISO 1250

He is not mad, they always look like that - Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/5.6 1/400 sec ISO 1250

Not a dozen feet away from the side of the truck was a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron. Not the more common Yellow-crowned Night Heron They both have brown patterned feathers, but their posture and stance is totally different. Additionally, the Black-crowned has a yellow bottom bill, while the Yellow-crowned juvenile has a all black bill. 

I start shooting out of the truck window while he slips out, gets his tripod and heads behind the truck.

And this is just after 5 pm when the shift changes at the Freeport LNG Plant and cars are just whizzing by. The bird is not fazed and we keep shooting. I can't get out, I would probably fall in the ditch if I tried, so I keep watching and clicking from the passenger side. I can see Bill in the side mirror down low behind the  truck. His big 500mm lens has a minimum focus distance of about 13 feet, so he was fine. 

Black-crowned Night Heron on the move Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/6.3  1/500 sec ISO 1600

Black-crowned Night Heron on the move

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/6.3  1/500 sec ISO 1600

The bird finally started to move after about 10 minutes of standing still and occasionally looking to either side. I still had him in sight; he only moved about 8 feet parallel with the fence. And then he turned and started across the ditch straight for me.

Black-crowned Night Heron coming my way Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/6.3  1/500 sec ISO 1600

Black-crowned Night Heron coming my way

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/6.3  1/500 sec ISO 1600

I am thinking at any minute he will bolt and fly off, but it was like the big white truck was a wall or something. I start worrying about my depth of field because he is getting closer and closer. My camera clicks were totally ignored. He kept coming.

Black-crowned Night Heron getting closer Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/6.3  1/500 sec ISO 1600

Black-crowned Night Heron getting closer

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/6.3  1/500 sec ISO 1600

The above photo is not cropped. I had pulled back from my maximum of 600mm to 450mm to get him all in the frame. And he kept coming. 

Extreme closeup - not cropped Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/6.3  1/500 sec ISO 1600

Extreme closeup - not cropped

Sony A77II with Sony 70-400 G2  f/6.3  1/500 sec ISO 1600

At this point I am leaning out of the window shooting almost straight down on the bird. He slowly advanced and ... then went under the truck. Bill could see him headed for the road and got up and shoo'ed him away from the busy highway. He came back out from under the truck, but by then he was turned away from me and I could only get shots of his backside.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron photo by William Maroldo

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

photo by William Maroldo

The above image was taken by Bill from his low vantage point. Much nicer than photos of the top of his head! It was a cool experience to be so close to the birds. I could see him breathe, see the worn edges to his feathers and see the white specs on the top his bill were some kind of plant material. 

The time I spent taking 165 photos did cause me to miss the first part of Dancing With the Stars... but it was worth it. You can't pass up opportunities.

Do you watch Dancing with the Stars? What would cause you to miss half of your favorite program? Have you ever been too close to a subject to get a good photo? Let me know in the comments below.

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