With 840mm at my disposal, getting the kind of natural photos of Snowy Egrets, one of Colorado’s iconic summer waders, has become much easier. A couple days after receiving my new 600mm lens, I waited at the Cottonwood Creek pond and wetland area, and the egrets eventually came to me. I managed to capture some of the best egret photos of my life so far, including some of the males battling each other…which usually starts and ends with whoever has the best plumage display.
One of the things I’ve always loved about birds is their eyes. A bird photo is so much more amazing when you can clearly see their eyes and eye coloration. Egrets have these incredible yellow irises, something not terribly common in eyes, and I am quite happy I was able to get a couple close-up head shots of two of the egrets.
The first one here is of an egret flaring his plumage. This particular male was always chasing after the others, seeming to be a bit of a bully. Most of the time, the other males would simply back off or fly to another part of the pond…however in a couple of cases the confrontations almost came to “blows.” It is interesting how feathers ruffled for a fight is different from plumage displayed for mating…in the mating case, a Snowy Egret has these long, flowing, and very delicate plums that drape off their backs in addition to the head crest, where as they just look mean when they get in a tussle.
I particularly the head shot above. This was the first egret that showed up after I set up and sat down…I love how his crest drapes off his neck…almost like a mane. He was quite comfortable with my proximity as well, and was intent on his hunting. He was quite successful for a while as well, catching a number of small fish and tadpoles, a crawdad, and a couple frogs (which were EVERYWHERE…at first I did not notice, but after a while I realized there were dozens, if not hundreds of tiny little dark frogs hopping about all around me, I suspect due to the recent rain and the small rise in water levels. I also noticed that in the shallow couple inches of water that had overflowed the previous bank of the Cottonwood Creek pond, there must have been hundreds of tadpoles oozing about.)