Great Egret - Field Notes Update / by Todd Henson

Great Egret in flight against clear blue sky

A couple months ago I was fortunate enough to photograph a pair of Great Egrets in a wetlands park. One of the pair was displaying late-season breeding plumage, always a beautiful sight. Another photographer and I stood and watched this pair for perhaps half an hour or more. Both of us had hoped to capture some images of either of the pair fishing, but that didn’t happen this time.

Profile of Great Egret

Great Egret preening

Great Egret plumage

Great Egret eating a dragonfly

I did, however, capture an image of something I’d never seen before: a Great Egret catching and eating a dragonfly. I noticed the egret looking intently in a particular direction. All I could see in that direction was a dragonfly perched on a branch. I didn’t think the egret would notice a dragonfly, but sure enough, it stretched out its neck and snatched the dragonfly in it’s beak, munched it a couple times, then opened its beak and swallowed what was left.

I was also waiting to see if either egret would take flight. I love capturing images of birds in flight, and Great Egrets can be beautiful in flight. They have a large wingspan and usually fold up their neck, making it look much shorter than it is. I did manage to capture a few nice images when the egrets took flight. One image shows an egret against the water with a fallen tree in the background, and two others show the egret almost directly overhead against a clear blue sky. I love how the wings are backlit in these images, showing details of the features. Beautiful birds. I look forward to the next time I have the opportunity to photograph Great Egrets.

Great Egret flying low over wetlands pond

Great Egret flying almost directly overhead against clear blue sky