Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The shore comes inland

with 16 comments

The current post in The Task at Hand, entitled “Herons & Photogs & Poets, O My!”, features two poems about herons by Linda Leinen and a photograph of a great white heron by Judy Lovell. In contrast, the last couple of posts in Portraits of Wildflowers have featured (as will a few more) the native plant known poetically as snow-on-the-mountain. Yesterday, to my surprise and delight, I was able to combine the bird and the plant.

Here’s how that came about. Yesterday morning I returned to the area in Cedar Park where I’d photographed a colony of snow-on-the-mountain, Euphorbia marginata, but this time I went across the street to a small pond around which some of those plants were also growing, hoping to get pictures different from the earlier ones. No sooner did I approach the pond than I saw a great white egret, also known as a great white heron, Ardea alba. I began on the opposite side of the pond from the bird, taking my time, and gradually worked my way around the fringes. The bird stayed a certain distance ahead of me, but it didn’t seem particularly wary and let me get closer than I thought it would. One result is this picture of the heron in front of the wildflowers, a happy synchronicity in white.

In The Birds of Texas, John Tveten writes: “The great egret [Casmerodius albus] is the largest of the white herons in Texas and is distinguished by its yellow bill and blackish legs and feet,” both of which are visible here. For more information, you can consult the Wikipedia article on the great egret.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 11, 2012 at 6:00 AM

16 Responses

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  1. The black foot made me smile, and the scene is serene. Lucky you to capture the egret on land. Or is it deceptive and it’s walking through marshy grasslands?


    September 11, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    • The bird was on land, but close to the edge of the pond. I used a long lens, so distances are “telescoped,” which is to say that far and near are pulled together.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 11, 2012 at 8:53 AM

  2. What a lovely pair of surprises. The first, of course, is the egret. It tickles me to see one of these beautiful birds in such a different setting. But the second surprise is the size of the snow-on-the-mountain plants. Whether it ever was intended, it makes their name appropriate in a second way. There’s the “snowiness” of their flowers, of course, but also the way they tower above the surrounding plants.

    Thanks for the mention, but thanks especially for such a wonderful photo! I especially love that you’ve captured that raised foot.


    September 11, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    • Happy surprises to you. I used to think of birds like these as shore birds, but I’ve become increasingly aware of them here in central Texas. They still apparently need water, but that can be a pond, lake, creek, or river, in lieu of an ocean. I took a bunch of pictures of this heron, doing my best to capture it in different poses. I’m glad you like that upraised foot as the bird was stepping forward.

      You’re right that snow-on-the-mountain can grow rather tall: I often encounter plants taller than I am, and the maximum height seems to be close to 7 ft. I see plenty of shorter ones, too: just yesterday I photographed some young plants that were flowering so close to the ground that I had to sit down.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 11, 2012 at 9:11 AM

  3. I think the picture has a certain feminine feel to it. Love the chain of green leaves on the stems and fluffy white flowers with the elegant bird traipsing by. Very pretty colors.


    September 11, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    • I’m glad the picture resonates with you, Judy. Interesting that you find it has a feminine feel. I like the way you refer to the foliage as a chain of green leaves, and I think traipse is just the right verb to describe the heron’s movements.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 11, 2012 at 1:03 PM

  4. Steve, please know that I am reading your blog everyday and enjoying it, even if I don’t leave comments. I just had to say, This is so wonderful! It makes my heart so glad. 🙂 kb


    September 11, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    • I’m grateful to have such a loyal reader and appreciator, Kitty-bo, and I’m pleased that this picture gladdened your heart.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 11, 2012 at 1:06 PM

  5. Beautiful!


    September 11, 2012 at 3:57 PM

  6. That’s great to combine two beautiful subjects in one shot. Perfect pose!

    Michael Glover

    September 12, 2012 at 11:28 PM

  7. This is a wonderful image of two things I haven’t seen in real life: the bird and the flowers. I like the way the flowers seem to complement the stance of the egret.


    September 18, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    • I’ll agree that the two things go well together, and I hope you get to see both of them for real one of these days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2012 at 8:01 AM

  8. […] September 10, when I was slowly following a white heron around a pond in Cedar Park, I noticed a very young black willow tree, Salix nigra, that was only a […]

  9. […] be flowering, I ended up at the same pond in the suburban town of Cedar Park where I photographed a white egret last September. At one point, as I walked through vegetation near an edge of the pond, a young bird […]

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