During a recent visit to the Playa Costa Verde resort in Cuba I had the opportunity to capture images of a variety of birds in a shallow wetland area that separates the hotel from the beach, using my Nikon 1 V2 and Nikon 1 CX 70-300. On a few occasions I was able to spot some Green Heron along the shoreline or in some of the dense vegetation. Green Heron are often nocturnal hunters and are rarely seen out during the day. I did find one individual resting in dark shade in the middle of a mangrove tree during the heat of the day.
NOTE: click on images to enlarge them
I found my Nikon 1 V2 with the Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 was an ideal set-up to do these kinds of bird images as it is very light and easy to handle when moving through vegetation along the shore or when shooting from the causeway that crosses the wetland area. The excellent VR allowed me to capture some images at relatively slow shutter speeds, even when shooting at longer focal lengths.
Since Green Heron are often nocturnal hunters they can be difficult to spot during the day. The best times are usually early in the morning and late day. They are intolerant of other birds and individual specimens are typically seen hunting alone along the shoreline or in dense vegetation.
Green Heron are relatively small birds with a body length of 17 inches (44cm). Their colouring is characterized by a chestnut neck, grey plumage underneath the body and yellow legs. Head and wings tend to have a green to bluish hue and the throat area typically has some white highlights.
Although I did not witness the behavior personally, Green Heron are one of the few bird species known to use tools to hunt. They will often use bread crusts, insects, or other items as bait, dropping it into the water to lure fish.
Green Heron have a breeding range that extends into the southern Great Lakes area of Canada as well as into the Pacific northwest. Many birds are year round residents of the Caribbean islands, Central America, and in coastal and wetland areas of the Southern USA.
Although typically seen with their necks in a withdrawn state, Green Herons do have quite a long neck that can quickly dart out to capture prey. I was fortunate to observe this behavior on a single occurrence and was able to capture the image below.
During each day of my visit I was out shooting by about 7AM and other than taking a breakfast and lunch break, I was shooting hand-held until about 5PM every day. I never once felt tired using my Nikon 1 V2/CX 70-300 combination as it is so lightweight and easy to handle. To read my full review of the Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 lens click on the link.
Technical Note: All images in this article were shot hand-held using a Nikon 1 V2 with Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR zoom lens. Images were processed from RAW files using DxO OpticsPro 10. A DNG file was then exported into CS6 and Nik Suite for additional tweaks as required.
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