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It was with a frisson of excitement that I spotted this praying mantis on the screen of the back door, a rare visitor here. Direct from an “alien invasion” horror movie, I thought. Making an excuse to my house guests, I grabbed the camera, and began clicking away.

After several minutes, they interrupted to suggest that I also shoot the bug from the outside. “But it will fly away if I open the door,” I protested. Why not go out the front door and tip-toe around the corner of the house, they replied, with the exaggerated patience of an adult talking to a child. Why not, indeed? It was an inspired suggestion.

This remarkable insect spent some time exploring the screen door before it finally flew off. Although anxious to return to my guests, I kept shooting, knowing I had but this one, rare opportunity.

In the last frame, the mantis demonstrated its segmented body, reminding me of the segmented buses and trolleys we see on city streets. In the next-to-last frame, it had swiveled its head and was looking directly at me, a motion it repeated several times, exhibiting I thought a native curiosity. (Such curiosity, I believe, resides in most living creatures, perhaps as a survival trait.)

I urge readers to view this photo sequence full-frame, in order fully to appreciate the delicate detail, especially in the wings. See below.

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Anyone who has watched a Great Blue Heron stand for hours waiting for a fish to swim by, knows it must “go to bed hungry” many nights. The great bird’s batting average is never very good.

So, I regard it as a privilege, on rare occasions, when I happen to witness a catch. It’s even rarer when I can record it with my camera.

In the last frame, the great bird is headed for the nearest dry land, where it will reposition the fish in its bill, and then swallow it whole. Why the extra step? My guess is that by climbing up on land, it has less chance of losing the fish if it drops while trying to swallow it.

The fish in question is probably a largemouth bass or a catfish, for that’s mostly what’s in the pond now. The small bluegills, a type of sunfish, all but disappeared in a mysterious die-off last March.

The photos were taken on September 11, 2012; the time is shown under each.

See related posts: Great Blue Icon*, Great Blue at Dawn*.

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I’m sure my presence at the open window or the clicking of my camera, more than 100 yards away, was what startled this young Green Heron. I had opened the window slowly without scaring it off, and was feeling a degree of self-satisfaction on that score. As soon as I started shooting, however, it flew away. I see now I’ll have to photograph these small, reclusive herons through the glass in future.

This is a first-year juvenile, indicated by the brown and white streaks on the its underparts, along with beginnings of the dark, adult crest. (You can see the details more clearly by opening the full-screen slide show, as explained below.)

Green Herons were more common on the pond years ago, longtime residents tell me. In an old Audubon Water Bird Guide, dated 1951, I found this supporting statement:

This is the most widely distributed of all our herons. Usually every brook or pond has a pair, and it is common in any extensive marsh, whether fresh or salt.

A remarkable but apparently little-known trait of the Green Heron caught my eye in Wikipedia, while I was prepping for this post:

Sometimes they drop food, insects, or other small objects on the water’s surface to attract fish, making them one of the few known tool-using species. This feeding method has led some to title the Green and closely related Striated Heron as among the world’s most intelligent birds.

I’ve had better luck capturing the small Green Heron during the split second it takes to get airborne, than its much larger cousin, the Great Blue Heron. Why, I’m not sure. Is the bigger bird quicker? That said, the lift-off photos here are disappointing. Fast as it was, my shutter speed was still not fast enough to stop the action cold. Ah well, a lesson learned.

The photos were taken on September 11, 2012, at the time shown under each.

See related posts: Two Green Herons, Three Days in August, Green Heron Hopping.

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No $3,000 boat needed here.

Shot September 3, 2012, at 8:57 am.

See related posts: Sport Fishing, Green Heaven, Early birds. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.

 

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Fishin’ ain’t no good here — let’s try the big rock.

This rock-hopping Green Heron was photographed September 3, 2012. The times are posted at left.

See related posts: Two Green Herons, Young Green Heron.

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A recent post portrayed a great blue in the rain. This sequence unfolded a few minutes later, just after the rain stopped. It’s the same bird, trying to decide whether to stay or go. After shaking water from its wings, it finally chose the latter course. It took off so fast, however, that I missed the shot.

This sequence was recorded on August 28, 2012, a day when anglers were absent from the pond due to rain, allowing this bird a brief return. The time of each photo is displayed beneath it.

See related post: Great Blue in Rain.

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