Wading Bird | Great Blue Heron | Green Heron | Black Crowned Night Heron | Great Egret
Where to See Wading Birds
If you want the chance to see or get a photo of a wading bird, go to Sunfish Pond right near the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. This is where I have been able to see and take pictures of a Great Blue Heron, a Black Crowned Night Heron, a Green Heron, and a Great Egret.
What I love about this spot is that there is a road way and parking right nearby. You don't need to hike for miles into the woods and risk getting lost. Yet it is out of the way and peaceful enough that you feel at one with nature.
Plus obviously the wildlife loves it as well as there is always something to see when you go there. The Green Heron and the Black Crowned Night Heron have both appeared right where the shoreline juts out. It is the perfect place for getting up close photographs.
There are also lots of beautiful hiking trails leading from that site if you want to go deeper into the woods. On the trails you will be able to see plenty of small birds and even feed them by hand.
All Images © whatsittoyou
Green Heron - Butorides virescens
Every time I visit, a Green Heron has appeared in this inlet where the shoreline juts out. The last time I went I got extremely lucky as he was really close to shore. I got the opportunity to see the fishing skills of this beautiful bird.
They say the Green Heron is one of the most intelligent birds as it uses "tools" for fishing. They will get twigs, leaves, insects or small fish and place them in the water to attract larger fish for themselves to catch. You can see the pictures I was able to take of this process below.
Green Heron FeedingClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bird Watching Guides
All of the people that I have met in this area have been willing to share their knowledge. They have helped me with identifying the many other types of birds and animals that can be seen here. However if you are bird watching alone or with not so friendly people you will want to have a guide for identifying the birds that you will see.
There are still books available, but now there are even Apps you can have on your phone. These can provide photos and descriptions just like the books do but they have the added capability of letting you hear what the birds calls sounds like.
When you are out in the field bird watching you want to carry as little as possible. You can put this app onto your phone to help you identify birds without having to carry a book.
This is a highly recommended book for the North American bird watcher.
Black Crowned Night Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
This is a Black Crowned Night Heron.
The Appearance of the Black Crowned Night Heron
I had been going to the same spot for a few days during the week. Every time I was crossing the bridge, to get to the best spot to be able to get some up close photos of the Herons, I would see a bird under this house. Since it was always there and it was too far away to get a good look, I was starting to wonder if it was real or a decoy. Another birder was in the area so I pointed it out.
She had a pair of binoculars with her so she was able to get a better look. It was indeed a real bird under there. She was very happy that I pointed it out, as it was a Black Crowned Night Heron and she had never seen one before. Luckily for both of us, about 15 minutes later it actually flew out and landed right in my favorite viewing spot. She couldn't believe it, she had been going there for 4 years looking for one and now there it was sitting there posing for pictures.
Binoculars To Help You See The Birds
When I asked about a more affordable option this was what was recommended to me by the other more experienced birders.
Great Blue Heron Taking Flight
Someone was actually able to capture a heron taking flight.
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias
The Great Blue Heron is my favorite one to see. I think they are the most beautiful of the Herons that I have seen. So of course this would be the most elusive one when you are trying to take pictures.
When I first started going I was fortunate enough to see them flying by, but they weren't landing anywhere near enough to a shoreline where I could get a really good photo. So I just kept going back until it happened.
This year i was lucky enough to have it happen twice. The first time it landed right beside the bridge. So I was able to get quite a few shots right up close. I even had to back off my telephoto lens to be able to get all of him in the shot.
The second time he actually snuck up on me. I was standing were the land juts out a little and he walked out from the weeds, less than 5 feet away from me. What I really couldn't believe was even after he saw me, he stayed there.
Great Blue Heron PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Best Telephoto Lens For Birding
I found out that if I wanted really good shots of birds, I would need to get a telephoto lens. At first I bought a smaller one that only went up to 250mm. It was definitely an improvement over the standard lens that came with the camera, but I soon found it wasn't going to be long enough to get good shots of birds in flight.
This is the one that I chose when I upgraded because it has a good reputation and it would provide me with the distance I wanted. It has auto focus capabilities and has Image stability. Both of these features make the pictures better and easier to take.
Great Egret (White Heron) - Ardea Alba
The first time I visited this spot a Great Egret was perched in a tree about 50 to 100 feet away. I did not have a telephoto lens yet, so when I tried to take a picture all you could see was that there was a white blob in the tree. The first photo below is the shot I got of the Great Egret in the tree. That was when I decided I had to get a telephoto lens.
I was so glad I bought one because the next time that I showed up the Great Egrets were flying around. I never would have been able to capture them without a telephoto lens. Then I got unbelievably lucky when one landed right in Sunfish Pond. That is how I was able to get the picture above. However he didn't stay there too long before he took off once again.
Baby Great White Herons Learn to Fly
Bird Watching Hamilton and Burlington Area
Above is a picture that I took of one of the maps on the trails in the area. You can get to Sunfish Pond by parking in the area where it is marked "You Are Here" but you would need to do a short walk along the trail to get there.
What I recommend is driving along Plains Road and turning onto Spring Gardens Road. There is a little parking lot right before the bridge that goes right over top of Sunfish Pond and Grindstone Marshes. You can take pictures right from the bridge that is on the roadway.
However if you want a good look at the Green Heron, cross the bridge that is on the walking trail to the left of the parking lot. Then on the right hand side there is a short trail that leads to the inlet where the Green Herons have been showing up.