Sunday morning Laura and I sent down to the Lake Conestee Nature Park. We had seen some heron chicks at the rookery, and wanted to see how they were coming along. Turns out there were several about ready to fledge.
We walked straight on down to the West Bay overlook, which has the best views of the rookery. There is a small platform that looks out over the water, which has been backed up by beaver dams on downstream.
We counted several very active nests with large heron chicks.
I had my long lens with me, but I hadn’t brought a tripod or monopod. At the 500mm zoom length I was getting quite a bit of hand-held shake, so the images weren’t as sharp as I might like. Regardless, it’s what I had, so I kept taking photos.
A white egret was also visiting the lake.
We moved around to the paved Swamp Rabbit Trail. Through the trees one can get an even closer view of the heron nests.
On the other side of the lake is an observation tower. Sadly, it’s a bit far away to get a good view of the herons, but I was able to get a panoramic shot.
I took advantage of the long lens to shoot a few more things.
Monday morning I headed back out to the park. This time I had my tripod with me, and I wanted to see if I could get some sharper images. I walked straight on down to the West Bay Overlook and got set up.
As it turns out, the platform isn’t the most stable surface. And, as it turns out, neither was my tripod. There was a breeze that shoot the tripod pretty much constantly. On top of that, I had forgotten my remote shutter release. Not the best of circumstances. I took what images I could, but they didn’t come out as sharply as I was hoping.
The heron chicks really looked like they were ready to fledge. They would spread their wings to catch the breeze. I expected them to take off at any minute.
Short of having a decent rock-solid tripod, I tried a few tricks to stabilize the image. I set the aperture as wide open as it would go and I bumped the ISO to 800 so as to decrease exposure time. I also used the camera timer since I didn’t have my shutter release. I got a few more shots, but I still wasn’t as happy as I might be.
Even as shaky as it was, I decided that since I had the tripod I’d shoot some video. I was hoping to catch a chick actually fledging. That wasn’t on today’s agenda, but I was able to get a feeding session. The birds were quite noisy. Here are the video clips.
I strongly suspect that if I were to head back later this week, some of those chicks would have fledged. They may still hang out at the nest for awhile, but they would be able to explore and find food on their own. I may just have to head back out that way.