Larry Treadwell  

Wurdeman Heron & Chicks by Larry Treadwell

September 2020 - Wurdeman Heron & Chicks

About the Image(s)

Wurdeman Heron and Chicks.

If you want the full background about this amazing bird please check out last months image and write up.

Nikon D810 with 200-400mm f4 lens with Nikkor TC 2.0 attached. Camera mounted on tripod with gimbal head and attached cable release. Tripod was mounted to a 15 foot canoe and canoe was double anchored. Camera settings ISO 640, f8 and shutter speed of 1/250. Shot in burst mode. Image shown was 3rd in the burst.

Briefly a Wurdeman Heron is the result of a cross species breeding between a female Great Blue Heron and a Great White Egret. It is quite rare. My images of this bird are the first known to be captured in south Florida in the past 10 years according to the Audubon Society. My Nature Story is two part. First it is a documentary simply showing the existence of this bird. For my part just capturing the existence of this bird is a story in and of itself although PSA Nature rules will probably not agree. Second, this image actually shows that a breeding took place and there is a next generation. According to the Audubon Society these chicks were, due to the limited markings shown, most likely the result of a second breeding between a White Egret and this GBH female.

The everglades of Florida are extremely hot in the summer and this breeding took place several months later than usual so the chicks were raised in the real heat of the Florida summer. I first found this nest by luck and accident (read last months write up). It required slightly more than 1 hour of paddling through the waters of the everglades to reach this nest. After first finding the nest I have returned to the site twice. On my first return visit I stopped at a safe distance and observed the female sitting on the nest. I launched the canoe just after sunrise and arrived at mid morning. It was already hot and mom was sitting on the nest. She did not move for over three hours so I left vowing to return earlier on my next visit. My research informed me that it takes 26-29 days to incubate GBH eggs. Using this as a guide I returned to the nest site 27 days later. I hoped to arrive just after the chicks hatched. This time I launched the canoe before first light and paddled in the grey wolf light of predawn. When I arrived I found mom standing on the nest. I allowed the canoe to drift in the morning silence until the mother first looked in my direction. At that point I dropped my anchors, set up the camera and waited. As the light first broke I noticed movement below the female in the nest. I was able to locate two chicks who had to be less than a week old. There were quite weak and were not able to stand for long before sagging back into the nest. I took shot several hundred shots shooting everytime I could see any of the chicks tiny heads. This image is one of the few that showed the eyes of both chicks. Mom never approached the chicks until the sun was up and then she simply settled down on top of the chicks to protect them from the sun. When I left several hours later she had not moved. I would not move an closed as I did not want to disturb the family and risk damage. I have not returned since. I never saw the male during any of my visits.
In post I cropped some of the image. What is shown is about 2/3 of the full frame. I did a considerable amount of sharpening due to the use of the TC 2.0 that does degrade image quality. I did try using my TC1.4 but the subjects were simply to small. I added some texture, and increased exposure. There was a slight adjustment insaturation and vibrance.

4 comments posted

Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
A remarkable image. I love it. The only thing that struck my eye is the foreground that includes the chicks looks a little too bright and sharp. Regardless, a wonderful photo.   Posted: 09/04/2020 09:26:21
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
You might be right. The little birds were quite dark in the image so I did try to brighten them a bit. I'm working on a new computer and do not have it calibrated as yet. But you are probably right the chicks should be darkened.

I like the view of the mother as it shows the shoulder chevrons and the white head that are the markers for a Wurdeman Heron.   Posted: 09/04/2020 16:17:03

Richard Matheny   Richard Matheny
Very good as always. What makes this image is of course the subject. It's a rarity and that makes and it a wall hanger in anyone's book. It's nice and sharp, the bokeh is real good but I will agree with Michael the chicks blend in a little to much with the nest for my taste. I think darkling the sticks a little would help the chicks stand out better and they are definitely part of this story. Larry Hope you don't mind but I made a couple of adjustment to the image. Darkened up the nest material and added a little light to the chicks.   Posted: 09/07/2020 14:28:37
Comment Image
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
I most certainly do not mind. That is the purpose of these groups. We all learn by seeing how others see our images and what changes can be made. I appreciate your efforts.

Thanks.   Posted: 09/07/2020 14:54:19


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